Continuing with our "Living for Jesus This Christmas" series, we have another post filled with hope for you this holiday season. 

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. For some this means absolute joy, for others it’s a more difficult time of year. I understand both sentiments—as I have had both throughout the years.

No matter where you are this time of year, or how you feel about it, I have a hope-filled message for you.

Right from Jesus’ birth, we see how God likes to surprise. He doesn’t choose the richest woman in the land to give birth to Jesus, but instead one of the impoverished. The angel Gabriel says to Mary:

“Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you. … Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in the womb and will give birth to a son, and you will call his name Jesus. This one will be great, and he will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David. And he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end. … The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore also the one to be born will be called holy, the Son of God” (Luke 1:28–38 LEB).

Mary’s ultimate reply, after learning that she, a virgin, will conceive miraculously: “Behold, the Lord’s female slave! May it happen to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38 LEB).

Mary speaks truth. These are words each of us need to hear today: May we act according to God’s will, so attached to him that it resembles a slave following his or her master. May God’s will happen according to his word.

But these are not just contemplative words—they are words of gratitude and joy. Although Mary may be feeling perplexed, she is in wonderment. She sees that great and wonderful things are coming (Luke 1:29, 34). And even when we are perplexed, we should look to God in wonderment too—knowing that he will do great and mighty things.

Christmas is meant to remind us of the great and wonderful things coming our way. We are meant to celebrate the occasion with pure joy. We should contemplate both what God did by becoming flesh—forever marrying humanity to himself—but also how he chose to become flesh.

God could have chosen a rich young woman or a queen. He could have chosen to be born into wealth and power. But that’s not what God chose. God chose a humble and honorable woman. He chose someone from poverty, who had no power at all.

And in this act, and so many others in Jesus’ life, we see that this is really what the Christian journey is about: a walk with God, in humility, grace, and love.

Christmas reminds us of all this. But Christmas also reminds us of Mary’s words about Jesus:

“My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced greatly in God my Savior, because he has looked upon the humble state of his female slave, for behold, from now on all generations will consider me blessed, because the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for generation after generation to those who fear him. He has done a mighty deed with his arm; he has dispersed the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones, and has exalted the lowly. He has filled those who are hungry with good things, and those who are rich he has sent away empty-handed. He has helped Israel his servant, remembering his mercy, just as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his descendants forever” (Luke 1:46–56 LEB).

This is what God does. This is who God is. This is what God is about.

May you be filled with joy today. May the power of the living Christ transform you and work through you. May you realize who God really is, and act according to his ways—lifting up the lowly and feeding the hungry.

This article was previously published under the title, "A Song of Gratitude for Christmas Day: Joy No Matter What."

You can still choose fair trade for Christmas.

Get your fair trade products by Christmas. Simply order today and select express mail. Choose from any of our fair trade products from Haiti, Guatemala, Brazil, Uganda, and Kenya.

*Please note that orders from Rwanda and Nepal will not be filled in time for Christmas. 

Shop Fair Trade for Christmas

 

Still need that last-minute gift? We have you covered. Simply choose Priority Mail when you make a purchase today, and you'll get it by Christmas. Jesus' Economy has hundreds of new products this fall, including adding tons of new products within the past few weeks, and you'll be sure to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list. But today is the last day to order priority mail and receive your gifts by Christmas, so hurry! 

 

Shop Fair Trade for Christmas

 

This does not apply to our fair trade from Rwanda or Nepal. You can still order products from these countries, but your gifts will not arrive by Christmas. 

The fair trade shop at JesusEconomy.org has some new baskets—just in time for last minute Christmas shopping! Now you can shop fair trade, take care of the environment, and decorate and organize your home at the same time. Here are a few of the beautiful fair trade baskets and storage units created by artisans from Rwanda.  

 

Baskets from Rwanda: Constellation in Black & Tea   

This basket comes in small, medium, or large, and is perfect for serving or display. You could put a small basket near your front door and use it for keys, or a medium basket on your dining room table filled with fruit. Each basket also has a loop on the back for easy hanging, and they would look gorgeous on your living room wall. And when your guests ask about it, tell them the story about where it comes from and how you positively impacted a community in Rwanda.

 

Banana Leaf Tapered Tray from Rwanda

This tray is crafted from locally-gathered stalks of leaves from banana trees. The leaves are carefully threaded around the stalks, and the result is a super sturdy tray that’s great for any use. Buy one, or buy three—they’re easy to stack!

 

Baskets from Rwanda: Teardrop in Red and Natural  

This unique and beautiful bamboo basket is handcrafted in the traditional Rwandan technique. It is lightweight and delicate, perfect for display or for holding your treasures. Each of the colors is created with natural dyes such as tea, soot, and rock applied to the grass with banana flower.

 

Banana Twine Magazine Tote from Rwanda

The magazine tote is a great basket that makes a practical decoration, and an easy on-the-go carrier. With hand-spun banana leaf twine, this basket is sturdy and durable, and perfect for a stack of books, a few skeins of yarn, or some of your tot’s favorite toys. It could even work as a little picnic basket! Buy one and bring hope to artisans in Rwanda!

 

Banana Leaf Nesting Cubes from Rwanda

These beautiful rustic boxes are a wonderful way to stay organized in fair trade style. They are available in three sizes, and they fit inside each other nicely. These cubes are practical and durable, and are the perfect way to manage craft supplies, toys, or sweaters. The large size is even designed to fit into regular modular storage shelves. You can’t go wrong with these storage cubes, and you can’t go wrong with fair trade.

 

Baskets from Rwanda: Traditional Grass Peace Basket in Black and White

This striking basket is the quintessential Rwandan gift. In Rwanda, these baskets are often used to hold other gifts—like the one given by every bride to her new husband’s mother. This type of basket is often used to hold dry goods like beans or rice. Each grass basket takes an entire week to weave, and it’s made from all-natural and locally grown materials. Be smart about the environment, support artisans around the world, and buy one of these baskets!

 

Banana Panel Storage Box from Rwanda   

Having trouble staying organized? These boxes are the answer! Created with banana leaves. These boxes are practical and can hold up to your demands! Use one to store your favorite photos, some small toys, or use it to stack napkins in the middle of your table. Pick up a fair trade storage box and change a life in Rwanda today!

 

Doing some really last minute gift shopping? Today is the last day to order first class mail and get it by Christmas! Today is also the last day to order Azizi Life fair trade until after the holidays!

Shopping fair trade brings communities together, treats the earth right, and is an all-around ethical way to buy things for yourself and for others.

 

Shop Fair Trade from Rwanda 

 

 

Christmas is right around the corner, and we have everything you’ll need from Christmas gifts to decorations. You can choose to shop by artisan, country, or category. Our holiday collection is packed with everything you’ll need for the season, and even better, all the products are beautiful, handcrafted, and ethically made.

Here are a few of our cheerful holiday products:

 

 

Shopping fair trade brings hope to artisans around the world who are working for a better future. And since Christmas is a perfect time to reflect on hope, it’s a perfect time to shop fair trade.

Shop Holiday Collection 

 

 

It seems like it was just summer, but now it’s December, and Christmas is going to be here before we know it.

Whether you’re looking for an ornament to spruce up your tree, some decorations to liven your holiday parties, or wonderful gifts to give, Jesus’ Economy has you covered. Our holiday collection is full of beautiful and practical holiday products that are ethically made, fairly traded, and leave a positive impact on the world and the people who made them.

 

Ornaments

Every Christmas tree needs ornaments to brighten it up. Each ornament can tell a story and be a part of the Christmas celebration. Here are some gorgeous ornaments that tell a story of hope—a story you can tell people when they ask where you got it. And while you’re shopping for your own tree decor, consider buying a few ornaments for friends and family. Tree ornaments make excellent holiday gifts, and here are just a few that are available in our holiday collection.

Ornaments from Haiti: Angel

A Caribbean angel has alighted on your tree, sent directly from sunny Haiti!

 

Ornaments from Haiti: Punched Tin Tree   

This simple but stunning tree is handmade from recycled tin and brings hope to artisans and the environment.

 

Ornaments from Rwanda: Miniature Baskets  

A weaver uses natural fibers and traditional basket weaving techniques to craft each of these fun little baskets.

 

Ornaments from Guatemala: Globe

Hand embroidered in traditional Mayan design, this cloth ornament is bold and joyful.

 

Ornaments from Haiti: Christmas Star  

These Christmas stars are more than ornaments. They are made by a Haitian artisan working to rebuild her home after it was destroyed in the 2010 earthquake.

 

Ornaments from Haiti: Bottle Pendant

Celebrate the season with these ornaments made from recycled glass and aluminum.

 

Ornaments from Rwanda: Hand-Carved, Tree Branch Bird  

Artisans use Jacaranda branches to carve these charming little birds, which are similar in size to our Rwandan fire finches. They look beautiful clustered against the dark evergreen of a Christmas tree.

 

Each of these ornaments are intricately designed to add beauty and a story to your Christmas tree this season. Buy one today and change the world through fair trade.

 

Shop Holiday Collection 

 

Merry Christmas!

May your day be filled with the joy of Jesus!

With much love and many blessings,

Jesus' Economy

 

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. For some this means absolute joy, for others it’s a more difficult time of year. I understand both sentiments—as I have had both throughout the years.

No matter where you are this time of year, or how you feel about it, I have a hope-filled message for you.

Right from Jesus’ birth, we see how God likes to surprise. He doesn’t choose the richest woman in the land to give birth to Jesus, but instead one of the impoverished. The angel Gabriel says to Mary:

“Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you. … Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in the womb and will give birth to a son, and you will call his name Jesus. This one will be great, and he will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David. And he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end. … The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore also the one to be born will be called holy, the Son of God” (Luke 1:28–38 LEB).

Mary’s ultimate reply, after learning that she, a virgin, will conceive miraculously: “Behold, the Lord’s female slave! May it happen to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38 LEB).

Mary speaks truth. These are words each of us need to hear today: May we act according to God’s will, so attached to him that it resembles a slave following his or her master. May God’s will happen according to his word.

But these are not just contemplative words—they are words of gratitude and joy. Although Mary may be feeling perplexed, she is in wonderment. She sees that great and wonderful things are coming (Luke 1:29, 34). And even when we are perplexed, we should look to God in wonderment too—knowing that he will do great and mighty things.

Christmas is meant to remind us of the great and wonderful things coming our way. We are meant to celebrate the occasion with pure joy. We should contemplate both what God did by becoming flesh—forever marrying humanity to himself—but also how he chose to become flesh.

God could have chosen a rich young woman or a queen. He could have chosen to be born into wealth and power. But that’s not what God chose. God chose a humble and honorable woman. He chose someone from poverty, who had no power at all.

And in this act, and so many others in Jesus’ life, we see that this is really what the Christian journey is about: a walk with God, in humility, grace, and love.

Christmas reminds us of all this. But Christmas also reminds us of Mary’s words about Jesus:

“My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced greatly in God my Savior, because he has looked upon the humble state of his female slave, for behold, from now on all generations will consider me blessed, because the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for generation after generation to those who fear him. He has done a mighty deed with his arm; he has dispersed the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones, and has exalted the lowly. He has filled those who are hungry with good things, and those who are rich he has sent away empty-handed. He has helped Israel his servant, remembering his mercy, just as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his descendants forever” (Luke 1:46–56 LEB).

This is what God does. This is who God is. This is what God is about.

May you be filled with joy today. May the power of the living Christ transform you and work through you. May you realize who God really is, and act according to his ways—lifting up the lowly and feeding the hungry.

For two days only, get 10% or more off fair trade Christmas products. The sale ends at the end of the day on Friday, December 19.

 

 

At this time of year, we see “Believe” hanging on mantles and stamped on shopping bags. But belief requires an object—God. The Bible advocates for us always directing our speech at God, even when things seem most dire. In this regard, belief without the object of God, is ironic—tragically comedic even.

The book of Esther is likewise comedic about its own society. It opens with lavish scenes that outdo The Great Gatsby. According to Bible commentator Adele Berlin, there are 10 parties in the book of Esther. This book is extravagant—and for a reason. We are meant to see the excess and laugh at its absurdity, similar to how we can laugh at the ridiculousness of "marketing Christmas."

The pressure of Christmas has a way of turning small matters into crises, while we ignore the big matter of forgetting about Jesus on the holiday about his birth. The book of Esther represents a parallel problem. As Adele Berlin also points out, King Ahasuerus makes small matters, like Queen Vashti not appearing at his party in the way he wishes, into state affairs. And Ahasuerus does so while treating major state affairs, like the future of the Jewish people, as issues that someone else can handled (passing of his signet ring to other men).

The book of Esther prompts us to laugh at Persian society, not as mockers, but as people, like the characters in the story, who believe that we can change it. We can change our own society too. This is the very power of belief, in the God whom we trust.

And at this time of year in the U.S., our society gets a little ridiculous too. There are parts of it that are so wonderful. And other parts that are heartbreaking: Is this what Christmas is really all about, we think? Where is Christ in Christ-mas, we ask?

And like our society often doesn’t mention God at all, neither does the book of Esther. This is a book that is almost secular. And all for a reason, in my opinion: Rather than mention God, Esther is showing us the God written all over our lives, even when we don’t mention him by name.

Ultimately, Esther ends up being the hero who saves her people from destruction. But before this happens, we wrestle with the tension of the story—will the people be saved, we wonder? And where is God in the midst of all this, we ask?

I think we see God right in Mordecai’s line:

“For if indeed you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, and you and the family of your father will perish. Who knows? Perhaps you have come to a royal position for a time such as this” (Esther 4:14 LEB).

This same idea about belief is captured well by the author of Hebrews:

“But we are not among those who shrink back to destruction, but among those who have faith to the preservation of our souls. Now faith is the realization of what is hoped for, the proof of things not seen. For by this the people of old were approved. By faith we understand the worlds were created by the word of God, in order that what is seen did not come into existence from what is visible” (Hebrews 10:39–11:3 LEB).

God appoints us to specific places, for specific reasons. Belief requires that we see those reasons. Belief looks for how God is using us. Belief sees no action as useless. And belief also looks for opportunities to act.

Belief looks for opportunities to serve others. When God's people are saved in the book of Esther, they initiate the festival of Purim to commemorate the deliverance. As part of this festival, they serve the impoverished (Esther 9:23). We should do the same at this time of year: Look to the God whom we love, asking him how he would have us to serve the impoverished, requesting that he show us the way forward to truly loving others.

Belief is about action on God's behalf. Belief is hope in God. And belief works toward our hope in God being realized, right here, right now. What is God appointing you to do? How can restoring belief to this Christmas season change your perspective?

 

Want to get involved in serving the impoverished now? Join Jesus' Economy in renewing Bihar, India, one of the most impoverished places in the world where few have heard the name of Jesus.

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This article is based on a sermon I delivered at The Table. Many of the ideas are based on Adele Berlin's Jewish Publication Society Commentary on Esther.

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