Saturday, December 31, 2011

Vintage Photos: Anti-Hunger Events in Kansas City

As we begin 2012, we mark the occasion with a new format for the Bread New Mexico blog.  

I also thought it would be fun to begin the new year with some pictures from the past, specifically the 1980s.  These photos are from anti-hunger activities in Kansas City. 

I joined Bread for the World in 1983 when I was still living in the Midwest (even though I had heard about the organization back in New Orleans). A couple of years later I became volunteer grassroots coordinator in Missouri Fifth Congressional District. I held that post until we moved to New Mexico in 1992.  Here are some photos from that era..

Bread event at Visitation Parish

The Missouri CROP WALK folks
V.G. Cuppy and Kathy Rivers wear their Bread shirts
Hands Across America
Crop Walk
Sister Stephanie Mertens

Friday, December 30, 2011

State Legislative Preview from Lutheran Advocacy Ministry

The 2012 session of the New Mexico state legislature begins at noon on Tuesday, January 17.

This session will be a "short" session that focuses primarily on budget issues although the governor is expected to include other issues. Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-NM will continue to advocate for funding of programs and public policies that help to improve the lives of our neighbors living in poverty.

Our 2012 Advocacy Agenda includes Affordable Housing, Hunger, Family-Sustaining Income, Health Care, Tax Policy and Immigration. The state budget has been cut by about 20% over the last few years. Those cuts have included cuts to vital programs that impact low-income New Mexicans.

The revenue forecast for the upcoming fiscal year is improved over recent years which helps the outlook for the state budget. We will be sending you Advocacy Alerts during the session and hope that you will take action in response to those alerts. You can find information about the legislature on its website.

-Ruth Hoffman

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Stars in the Sky and a Heart Full of Hope on Christmas Eve

Canyon Rd., Santa Fe
Farolitos en el cielo poco a poco van naciendo
Como nace el sentimiento por las calles de mi pueblo Corazón que canta, corazón que sueña lleno de esperanza en la Nochebuena
-Kike Santander 
(from the song Farolito, performed by Gloria Estefan)

Christmas Band performs on Canyon Rd.
Blessings and Joy this Christmas from Bread New Mexico

Monday, December 19, 2011

Happy 40th Birthday Network!

This past Saturday, December 17, the Catholic Social Justice Lobby Network celebrated its 40th birthday.  There are similarities with Bread for the World.  Both are faith-based organizations that were born in the 1970s.  They both organize the grassroots to advocate on social justice issues.  

And if I'm not mistaken, there was a time when you could reach the offices of the two organizations from the Rhode Island Ave. stop on the Red Line of the Washington Metro. 

Here is a note from Network:
On December 17th 1971, 47 Catholic Sisters from many orders and from all over the country gathered for a weekend meeting in Washington, DC, where they voted to create a “NETWORK” of Sisters who would live out the Gospel call to work for justice.

These sisters were united by a faith-filled vision: by taking action together to lobby our government, concerned citizens can end policies that keep people in poverty and develop new policies that instead create paths of opportunity.

NETWORK began as a powerful example of what we can achieve as a community of engaged people who care deeply about the common good. As NETWORK celebrates its 40th anniversary year, we know that we’ll need to stay strong as a community to meet the challenges of this special year.
Happy, Happy Birthday to a like-minded organization.  And as the saying goes after one sings Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday to You..   And Many More....

Saturday, December 17, 2011

No Turkeys Needed. But We Welcome Pork, Red Chiles, Onions, Garlic, Oregano

Turkey? Perhaps. But make sure you have some pork, corn and chiles on hand to celebrate the Christmas season in Mexico and the U.S. Southwest. Those are key ingredients used for raditional recipes for posole and tamales in parts of Mexico and the Southwest. 

This was a main consideration when the Young Adult Group at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church was planning a community outreach event for families who are served by  the Casa de las Comunidades (CLDC) Catholic Worker House. So while many other agencies were giving away turkeys for Thanksgiving, the group at Immaculate Conception and other volunteers from the parish were providing pork, red chiles, garlic, onions, oregano and tortillas, which are ingredients used for a pot of posole. 

"Twenty famlies received a bag of groceries, every item needed to make a big yummy pot of  posole," said Rene Ronquillo,development and outreach coordinator at CLDC.  

Some might have prepared a typical version from Mexico, although the ingredients were more appropriate for the New Mexican version.

But Thanksgiving only represents the start of the season. "We are now beginning posadas and gearing of Christmas. The big need in this community right now is the resources to pay their gas and electric bills," said Rene.  [If you are interested in helping with this, please call Sr Teresa at CDLC at 265.2371 or Rene at 504.338.5280].

Many of the families no doubt will turn their attention to tamale, which are a must during the Christmas season for many families in Texas, New Mexico, and parts of Mexico and Central America. And there are countless ways to make tamales, with recipes passed down from generation to generation.  Here are a few versions:Texas, New Mexico, Veracruz, and Guatemala 

Friday, December 16, 2011

You're Invited to the "Funky Hanukkah Joyous Event"

The season offers many opportunities and a variety of settings to donate to worthy organizations locally and at the same time celebrate culture and tradition. On Saturday, December 17 (that's tomorrow!), Congregation Nahalat Shalom will host the annual Funky Khanikeh Freylekh, a Hanukkah festival for the entire community.

For a modest entrance fee $2 ($1 for those 18 and under), plus voluntary donations of non-perishable food items for Roadrunner Food Bank and warm clothing and blankets for The Storehouse, you will be treated to live music, puppetry, arts and crafts and food.  This pre-Hanukkah celebration begins at 5:30. 
Want more details?  Here is how Nahalat Shalom describes the celebration (which translates to the Funky Hanukkah Joyous Event)
Dance to the exciting music of the 20-piece Community Klezmer band and join the fun and easy dance lines led by Rikud dance troupe. Enjoy special activities and presentations by and for children, and a performance by puppeteer Marc Wunder. Beautiful crafts and unique items will be sold by local artists and craftspeople -- including the nationally recognized New Mexico artists Diana Bryer and Diane Palley. There will also be a silent auction, a used book sale benefitting Nahalat Shalom's Library, and a raffle. “Latkes” - the famous potato pancakes of the Hanukkah tradition will be sold along with other delicious foods and drinks.
Oh and by the way, if Klezmer music interests you, the band that is based at Nahalat Shalom is open to members of the community, regardless of religious affiliation.  Watch for more information about Klezmerquerque 2012 on Presidents Day Weekend. For a wealth of information about klezmer music and dance around the world visit Ari Davidow's Klezmershack And visit Community Klezmer band's banjo-player Marc Yellin's website Abq Jew -- and his blog.

Menorah in Santa Fe.  Hanukkah is observed on Dec. 20-28 this year.

ABC 20/20 Special Tonight to Examine Challenges of Mothers

I know it's Friday night on the last weekend before Christmas. Even if we are not shopping for Christmas, attending a party or baking cookies, the last thing we want to do is watch television.

Helen Gayle, CEO of CARE, gives us a reason to tune in at 8:00 p.m. Mountain Time.  As it turns out, CARE recently joined with ABC News and the United Nations Foundation in the Million Moms Challenge. Together they created a special edition of 20/20 entitled,  "Making Life: A Risky Proposition."

Here's what Helen Gayle says.

"This unique initiative engages millions of Americans with moms in poor countries around the world to connect — and act — on important issues, such as pregnancy, childbirth and children’s health....Diane Sawyer will host an eye-opening report that sheds light on the challenges mothers face in developing countries. ABC talked to some of the women and girls CARE works with in Afghanistan, where we employ low-cost, low-tech solutions that can help save millions of lives."

ABC offers more details about the program in a summary online.

"The numbers are staggering: Every 90 seconds, a woman dies during pregnancy or childbirth – that’s about 1,000 women a day. Yet experts say that more than 80% of these deaths are totally preventable if only the mothers-to-be received proper medical care. At the bottom of the list… countries like Afghanistan, with its child brides, and Sierra Leone, which has one of the highest fertility rates in the world. The U.S. ranks surprisingly low in the industrialized world — number 41 on the maternal mortality list. It’s an issue that experts all over the world say is “unforgiveable” because even the most basic medicine and intervention could prevent the majority of these deaths."  Read the full summary

So if you happen to be at home tonight, it might be worth turning on your television and watching.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Advent and the Gift of the Holy Spirit

Photo by Elaine VanCleave
Here in Advent we have a little Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit! We open our hearts to the God who is not only the infinite creator beyond us or the savior beside us, but also the spirit who dwells within us.

We await the birth of Christ in Bethlehem, we await the coming of Christ as the culmination of human history, and we also await the birth of Christ in our own hearts.

Christ was born to serve the poor and to re-weave the torn fabric of our world in which we separate ourselves from those who suffer, and thereby separate ourselves from God. 

Christmas is not a sentimental tale about a cute baby; it’s about the healing of the world. When Christ is born in us, Christ’s spirit comes to life in us in a new way, and we become devoted to that same work of the mending of the world. Our lives are re-shaped for the purpose of bearing witness to the light.

An excerpt from Advent Pentecost
In Unfolding Light blog

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Oxfam America Hopes to Use Hunger Banquets to Raise Awareness about Famine in East Africa

Oxfam America has entered a contest sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development to raise awareness about hunger and poverty. The contest is part of the FWD campaign.  The winner of the contest will receive a grant of $5,000 for the awareness effort.  Today is the last day to vote.  (Don't you wish all these worthy entries would get funded?)

Oxfam's plan is to promote the concept of hunger banquets and tie this in to the famine in East Africa.  (Check out the video and the information below).   And even if Oxfam America does not get the grant, they will continue forward with their efforts.  "We have some exciting plans for Women's Day in March," said organizer Brian Rawson.

The Idea

Five major cities across the US will host an Oxfam America Hunger Banquet ® on the same night. These events will be free to the public. Live video feed will connect each city and be streamed online. The goal is to raise awareness of the crisis in E. Africa through an impactful dining experience.

The Plan

At an Oxfam America Hunger Banquet ®, guests randomly draw tickets that assign them to different income levels, based on statistics about the number of people living in poverty. Depending on where they sit, some receive a filling dinner, while others eat a simple meal or share sparse portions of rice and water. Following the meal, participants are encouraged to share their reactions from the night. This discussion will be elevated with a deeper description of the facts detailing the crisis occurring in E. Africa. Our goal is to inform and empower participants to take action. We will provide participants with a short list of actions they can take, including opportunities to volunteer within their community and relevant policy actions.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Sweetness of Advent

No matter what culture, chances are sweets are part of the Christmas tradition (and other celebrations that occur during this time of year).  And chocolate is one of the ingredients used to make sweets to mark the season.

Chocolate and all the other confections and baked goods are actually a great metaphor for the sweetness of Advent. If we really take the season to heart, God speaks to us in our sense of smell, taste, hearing and vision. 

So, in that spirit I want to share an excerpt from a great poem that I found in a site called
Chocolate strolls up to the microphone
and plays jazz at midnight, the low slow
notes of a bass clarinet. Chocolate saunters
down the runway, slouches in quaint
boutiques; its style is je ne sais quoi.
Chocolate stays up late and gambles,
likes roulette. Always bets
on the noir.

-Barbara Crooker from Ode to Chocolate

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Still Shopping? How about Books on Hunger and Poverty?

Perhaps you've joined the latest trend of reading books on Kindle or Nook or some other hand-held tablet. I'm not at that point yet.  I still prefer to hold an actual book in my hands and turn the pages.   

Here are three great books about hunger, and only Ending Hunger Now is readily available to read via a tablet, but one popular site gives you the option of "telling the publisher" that you'd like to read the two other books on Kindle.
These are only some recommendations.  Bread for the World's managing editor Molly Marsh posted a great list in the Bread blog in August 2010.  One of these books is on that list.  (You'll have to check out the list to see which book I'm talking about). The two other books are found in Bread's online Store. (Go to the home page and click on Store in the upper right hand corner).  

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Seeking A Circle of Protection at a Crowded Restaurant Booth, A Law Office, Campaign Headquarters

There were 11 of us who met with the five candidates for the First Congressional District, but not everyone was at every meeting.  We scheduled these meetings as a follow-up to the Circle of Protection prayer vigil that we held at the end of October.  Here is the script.

We handed each candidate a folder with materials related to the Circle of Protection and a  letter with at least 90 signatures from people of faith in the Albuquerque area, mostly in the First Congressional District.  (But with redistricting, the boundaries might change, and some folks who are in adjacent districts might end up in the First District).

There were three to five people during each of the conversations with the candidates, and we were grateful to have a good cross-section of Bread members and supporters.  We were Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, United Methodists, Episcopalians.  Our group of citizen advocates was very diverse, including a couple pastors, a nurse, an educator,  a journalist, two military veterans, the development and outreach coordinator for a local Catholic Worker House, a consultant for an organization that sponsors economic development projects in Mexico, and the former director of the ARC of New Mexico.

In two meetings, we either crowded into a restaurant booth or put two small tables together to meet with the candidate. Another meeting took place in the conference room of a law office downtown after  hours.  Two other conversations took place in the still-unfurnished campaign headquarters of the candidates. 

We are very generally pleased with the outcome of  each of the meetings because the candidates-- former State Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones, ex-Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez, State Sen. Eric Griego,  Bernalillo County Commissioner Michelle Lujan Grisham, and Albuquerque City Councilor Dan Lewis--engaged with us in  honest conversations about hunger and poverty, our current economic system, the tax situation, and other themes.  More importantly, they shared with us their visions about the best way to address hunger and poverty in our country and overseas.

We have to remember that these are folks who work with us in our local community. Lujan Grisham is an attorney and Bernalillo County Commissioner; Lewis is pastor of Soulrio church; Arnold-Jones is a senior executive with EnergySolutions; Griego was recently executive director of the non-profit New Mexico Voices for Children; and Chavez recently served as as executive director of ICLE Local Governments for Sustainability.

In most of  the meetings, the candidate was receptive in some form to the Circle of Protection campaign.  The exception was City Councilor Lewis, who suggested that the best way to address hunger is to reduce the role of the federal government and let the local communities of faith and state and local governments take on this role.  This led to a very spirited (but polite and  honest) discussion.

Ann Sims offers her viewpoint to Dan Lewis
It was great to have committed anti-hunger advocates participate in some of our discussions. Pastor Kay Huggins (Second Presbyterian Church), Patty Emord and Ester Griego (St. Andrew Presbyterian Church), Ellen Buelow (Holy Rosary Catholic Community) and John Foley (Mesa View United Methodist Church) had led Offerings of Letters in their congregations.  Ann Sims, also led offerings of letters in a couple of congregations and served for six years on the Bread for the World board of directors.

Also joining us for two meetings was Rev. Donna McNiel, executive director of the New Mexico Conference of Churches. And Larry Buelow took part in our meeting with Counselor Lewis.

"When you talk about food issues, it brings it everything else, the access, the have a huge constituency of people who have that on their radar...and high on their radar...that is important to people in New Mexico,"  Ann Sims told Eric Griego.  Ann told both Sen. Griego and Councilor Lewis that public-assistance programs were crucial during a time of her life when she was a single mother.  Because of  these programs, she was able to afford to get an education and eventually became a nurse.

For Rene Ronquillo, who joined us for the meeting with Commissioner Lujan Grisham, this was her first experience in legislative advocacy.  "Although she was empathetic, I am confident that our meeting had an impact and we shared compelling information and stories that made her more aware," said Rene.  Mary Quinalty, a member of the Peace and Social Justice Commission at Aquinas Newman Center, was also present at that meeting.

C. Navarro, Martin Chavez, Rev, McNiel, Kay Huggins, Patty Emord
And we also made the candidates aware that we would be back in touch. "When you hear from Bread for the World, it's worth paying attention to us," Rev. Huggins said in the conversation with Martin Chavez.

And Rev. McNiel, elaborated: "Poor people don't have a lobby. Bread for the World is one of the organizations where folks speak up for people who don't have a voice."

And John Foley talked a bit about policy, urging Sen. Griego to look at the big picture. "When you pull the plug on a nutrition program, you're going to have commensurate adjustment in other areas like medical needs. Proper nutrition and medical go together."

Ellen Buelow spoke about the positive impact of the Earned-Income Tax Credit on addressing poverty.  If you recall, strengthening the EITC was the topic of our Offering of Letters in  2010."When we worked for the Earned Income Tax Credit, that really impacted a lot of families at Holy Rosary (Catholic Parish)."

Ellen also underscored the impact that feeding programs have had on the for low-income people on the West Side of Albuquerque.  "I saw grandparents bringing kids in, conversations of these little kids were about dads in jail, immigration problems. If we had not fed them breakfast, they would have not started their day," she told Eric Griego.

Several important themes came up during our conversations.  Here is what the candidates said:

Social Justice, Fairness, Safety Net, Poverty, Compassion
Mary Quinalty, Michelle Lujan-Grisham, Rene Ronquillo

People have forgotten the value of  a safety net-Janice Arnold-Jones

It's really about focusing on a level of safety-net investments. -Michelle Lujan Grisham

All this has to be seen through the lens of what's fair.  Dr. Martin Luther King's message was not so much about civil rights, but about social justice.  -Martin Chavez

The reason why I'm steadfast on these policies is because I was one of those kids. I grew in a single parent home... The only reason I went to school some days because I got a warm breakfast.  My mom went back to work because Headstart started. That's where I got meals and received care -Eric Griego

There's this misperception that the poor are somewhat at fault...  -Martin Chavez

I'm a great advocate of faith-based organizations.  Giving control to the local ministries and organizations, that know the needs,  know that they have a heartbeat for what the needs are...I hope you see me as a great advocate for world hunger and meeting local needs for people that are marginalized in our society, I believe that there is a current approach in our society that is hindering our ability to meet those needs.  -Dan Lewis

I don't have a simple answer [on how to best address hunger in New Mexico].  Honestly, I don't.  But here's a country with abundance.  Why is it that we have this discussion? -Janice Arnold-Jones

Some gap between rich and poor had always been acceptable in this country as long as there was an opportunity for upward mobility.  That mobility is gone.    -Martin Chavez 

Foreign aid 
I know how important USAID is. J am a huge supporter of foreign aid, and I think that's part of the reason why we're having such a tough time with national security because the US is not outside of certain countries,  -Eric Griego

I'm a strong supporter of foreign aid.  It's one of the cheapest investments we can make in terms of  our own national security.  -Martin Chavez

The Budget Debate and Economic Development
John Foley, Ann Sims, Eric Griego, C. Navarro, Ellen Buelow
We can quadruple the amount of foreign aid and protect all those programs (WIC, TANF, Food Stamps) if we look at the revenue side.. We can't have a cuts-only approach, we can't disinvest in people, we can't put the most vulnerable, throw them under the bus.  -Eric Griego

Because we've expected so much from the federal government, we overspent...We've gone into debt.  We cannot sustain the amount of spending that we have now. All I'm saying that we have to acknowledge that if we are going to help people in this country...What I'm saying is that we keep the dollars in the community. -Dan Lewis
We need to look at whether the tax system is fair -Janice Arnold-Jones 

We have a systemic breakdown.  In be addressing  the short-term and the long-term problems, without fully recognizing that poverty is front and center is an issue... I want to take care of the short-term issues, but it's always with an eye toward toward 100 years down the road.  -Martin Chavez

I would be remiss if I didn't admit that this is a very climate to operate in. We could do a better job showing unequivocally in this difficult climate to improve the economy and to do something about our current budget woes -Michelle Lujan Grisham

Food stamps are  a huge economic stimulus for the economy...People have to eat  -Eric Griego

I think we have a huge problem in our country: we are not competitive.  -Martin Chavez

The Political Process and Advocacy
Donna McNiel, Janice Arnold-Jones, C. Navarro, Ellen Buelow, Ester Griego
"Our political system was designed to create agreements. Politics has become very polarized." Janice Arnold-Jones

It's a collective effort.  Instead of pointing fingers at each other, we've lost sight of working together to resolve these problems. In states like New Mexico we have a higher poverty level than many states in the country  -Michelle Lujan Grisham

I don't believe that we need a government fix. I believe that it's local organizations and communities  By sending money back to local communities and giving local control to those communities to take care of needs. -Dan Lewis

You won't find me at the receptions...It's intoxicating because you get drawn into this Washington culture, good and bad.  The way to get me is to always to send someone from Albuquerque.  We'll have an open door.  I'll make sure I'm available to you here and in D.C.  -Martin Chavez

I think the danger that when we have an organization that comes to Washington and says 'we need more of this,'  that's part of the problem with Washington being so big....We've looked to Washington for the answer for everything   -Dan Lewis

E-mails are better from an environmental standpoint.  I'm strong environmentally, a lot of trees get saved.  -Martin Chavez

Friday, December 09, 2011

Remember the Horn of Africa on Human Rights Day

The United Nations Declaration on Human Rights
- Article 25
(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond control.

The global community observers World Human Rights Day every year on December 10. For those of us in the anti-hunger and anti-poverty movement, Article 25 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights spells out very clearly a very basic right for all individuals around the world. This year, the Carmelite NGO, which advocates at the UN on a number of important issues (hunger, human rights, freedom of belief, education, women's issues), wants us to remember all the women, children and men affected by drought, political oppression and global indifference in the Horn of Africa. 

The Carmelite community has prepared a booklet with prayers, reflections and scripture verses that allow us to hold the people in this region in our hearts.  Here's a note from Carmelite Sister Jane Remson, director of Bread for the World New Orleans.
As we prepare for the coming of the Christ child let us remember the millions of hungry people, especially hungry children.  Attached is a Day of Prayer that calls our attention to Somalia and the countries of the Horn of Africa.  The current drought and political situation in the African country of Somalia has caused a massive migration of people. A crisis of hunger is showing no signs of improving.  I invite you to join with others from all around the world and pray for the least fortunate amongst us.
Download Booklet

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Tuesday, Dec. 6: A Forum on the Working Poor

Risen Savior Social Justice Ministry and the Notre Dame Club of New Mexico invite you to:

Response to the Working Poor: 
A Catholic Social Justice Forum 
Tuesday, December 6
Marian Center Gathering Hall
Risen Savior Catholic Community  7701 Wyoming Blvd. NE7:00 p.m.

Father Rusty Smith, St. Martin's Hospitality Center   
Ilyssa Bozza, Catholic Charities

For more information, contact Julie Fritsch at 944-0033.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Enchanted by the Light: A Christmas Book by Local Bread Member Hank Bruce

Hank Bruce and his wife Tomi Jill Folk are passionate anti-hunger advocates.  They are strong proponents of using the moringa tree as an answer to global nutrition problems.  They even wrote a children's book to create an awareness of this valuable tree as a source of nutrition and a means to help provide safe drinking water.  

For Hank and Tomi Jill--Bread for the World members from Rio Rancho--telling stories is a great way to share their passions with others.  Case in point: a great collection of stories that Hank put together to celebrate singer John Denver's music.

Hank's latest work is a collection of 15 short stories celebrating Christmas in New Mexico.  (Tomi created the wonderful cover for the book).   This collection celebrates the diversity of the people, cultures and landscapes in our state.

Here's a great description in
Christmas isn’t just a marketplace holiday, nor is it a narrow observance of tradition, or the remembrance of an event dimmed by the distance of a couple thousand years. This is the one time of the year when we can set free the light that shines within each and every one of us. For a few days, or weeks, we allow ourselves the opportunity to glow with peace and good will. The light within vanquishes the fear and anger for just a moment in time, but within that moment is the hope of all humanity.
For each of these stories, this fifth season of the year is a special time, with spirituality that transcends the church pew. This is the season we experience with the senses. After all, New Mexico is a place where “red and green” don’t refer to decorations, but rather the dinner table choice of red or green chile.
During this most intense time of the year, we experience with more than the physical senses. We have the opportunity to experience our sense of belonging, sense of place, sense of hope, sense of peace, and most definitely, our sense of humor.
Sure, you can purchase the book online.  But wouldn't you love to have an autographed book from Hank?  He will be signing books at the following locations this month:

Today, December 3, 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
Alameda Greenhouse during North 4th Street Stop & Shop

Saturday, December 10, 2:00-3:00 p.m.
Alamosa Books interactive reading with puppets

Friday, December 16, 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.
La Montanita Co-Op in Santa Fe 

Tuesday, December 20, 10:00 a.m.
Loma Colorado Library (Rio Rancho) Children’s Flower Shoe’s for Christmas

Many authors have chosen to live in New Mexico.  But not all of them have the distinction of also being Bread members.  Another local author who is a Bread member is Lucretia Tippit, who helps organize offerings of letters at All Saints Lutheran Church.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Reclaiming Advent and Christmas

The Presbyterian Church USA has put together a great resource entitled Ideas for Reclaiming Advent and Christmas.

Even though this resource is intended primarily for Presbyterians, it is applicable to all Christians and people of conscience.   

In Advent we wait for the coming of Christ. At Christmas we celebrate Jesus’ birth. Shape your seasonal celebration to be one centered on the true meaning of Christmas. Prepare for the holiday by simplifying life, incorporating prayers, giving alternative gifts and serving sustainable foods. Share the love of Christ with others throughout your life with a living witness this season.

 The resource, provided as a PDF download (click here), offers great suggestions on how we can reclaim Advent and Christmas in a variety of ways.   Below are some excerpts. 

Living the Season
Society places many expectations on us (and we place expectations on ourselves) to create “the best Christmas” by outdoing each other and what we did last year. Avoid running ragged and becoming exhausted by deciding early in the season what will be meaningful for you. Then be intentional about choices throughout the season. 

Pray and Renew: Holidays can be a great time to teach, learn and write new prayers. Encourage visitors to pray and give thanks. Consider your family’s everyday prayer life, too. Rotate who prays before each meal from person to person, year to year, so everyone has an opportunity to pray.

Slow Down, Make It Memorable: When we get caught up in shopping and preparations, it is easy to forget about Christ. Relax. Savor both the season and Christmas Day. Christmas is a holy day and the focus should be on God, not on materialism.

Greenery as Life, Creation and Renewal
We celebrate the birth of our Savior during Christmas. With the onset of winter, there are fewer signs of life, which can make it difficult to celebrate birth and renewal. The church has traditionally remembered Christ’s birth through the introduction of signs of life during the season of Advent:

Advent Wreaths: Rather than purchasing a fresh Advent wreath, you can make one. The lower branches of a Christmas tree that were cut to fit it into a stand make excellent wreath material. Find ocal and organic options for greenery by visiting a local farm or  farmers’ market. Use beeswax candles in your wreath. They are organic and biodegradable.

“O Christmas Tree”: While there may not be a Biblical basis for having a Christmas tree, bringing greens and signs of life into our homes has become a standard part of Christmas tradition. If you have an artificial tree, it is best to use it as long as you can. If you purchase a live tree, go local. Visit a tree farm for a memorable outing with family or friends. After the holidays, treecycle! 

Holiday Gifts
The Magi traveled a long distance to bring gifts to Jesus. Their gifts honored the child and provided for the family. Today, gift giving can be a tricky topic. Like the Magi, we should find humble gifts that honor our loved ones while honoring Christ and remembering why we celebrate Christmas in the first place.

Fair Trade Items: Selecting fair trade answers God’s call to liberate the oppressed and set the captives free. Coffee, tea, cocoa, chocolate, and snacks from the Presbyterian Coffee Project make great gift baskets or stocking stuffers: .Fair trade handicrafts support the self-development of people worldwide through the Global Marketplace: . Fair trade sports equipment is made without child labor:

Meals: Give the promise of food and meals to people on your list. Promising to eat lunch with loved ones at their workplace or school once a month is a great way to spend more time together.

Holiday Foods
Food plays an important role in holiday gatherings. Many Bible stories tell of God providing food for the weary. As Christians we can be conscientious about where our food comes from and how it is produced, so that our food choices sustain life rather than injustice. Here are some ways to embody the life of Christ through your eating and food preparation this season.

Cook and Bake Responsibly: Many baking items such as sugar, cocoa, vanilla, and spices are harvested under grueling conditions. The people who bear the brunt of hard work and low pay are the most vulnerable: women and children. Purchasing fair trade baking goods, as well as snacks, chocolate and beverages helps prevent child labor and oppressive working conditions and ensures workers a fair wage. Natural food stores in your area should sell products with the Fair Trade Certified seal.

Keep It Local: Local foods require less energy to transport to your table and help minimize your environmental impact. Visit Local Harvest  for markets and farms in your area. Purchase locally sourced meats from free-range, organic producers. For help choosing foods that suit your needs visit Sustainable Table. Consider creating a vegetarian or vegan feast from local farm goods.

Minimize Waste and Packaging: While recycling is far better than adding waste to landfills, buying items with no packaging or reusable packaging is the best option. Compost raw food scraps as a way to enhance your or a neighbor’s garden soil.