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About ten days or so ago I was listening to the radio on my way to work.  A reporter was talking about the latest financial crisis the economy is facing and discussing with a commentator how this is affecting families.  The commentator observed that, although the chancellor is encouraging us to spend (and I guess the cut in VAT was intended to encourage us in this), evidence was showing that in fact most people seemed to be reducing their spending and were thinking much much more carefully about what they needed, as opposed to what they wanted.

On a personal level I also have noticed this to be true. People are deciding not to book that holiday, not to spend beyond what is necessary this Christmas, to choose more thoughtful gifts rather than relying on a proliferation of gifts.

So this got me to thinking.  I don’t know that much about economics (can you tell?!) yet even to a casual observer it is clear that if our current economic system is struggling or even collapsing because people cannot afford to spend or choose not to spend, in other words if capitalism is failing, what then?  A system based on consumption and spending (based on universal debt perhaps?) cannot succeed when people lack the inclination or the means to spend, and have cottoned on to the futility and vacuousness of buying stuff for the sake of having stuff, no matter what the stuff actually is to them.

So then, what is the economy of God?  I have heard this phrase used in sermons, where it is used with the implication that God’s economy is based on love and justice rather than money.  But how does God want our world to be constructed?  How should we spend our money, and more importantly perhaps, what systems or structures should we sit under to encourage and reflect an economy that really is of God? 

It depresses me that I have over the years of my life spent money on tat, because it was there, or on buying a newer, shinier version of the thing that I already have (newer shoes, a more up to date coat, all the usual..).  And I’m not even a particularly materialistic person.

So this Christmas we, like so many others, have tried to think more carefully about what we give and who to.  We have made some gifts too.  We have asked for things we need or would really value.  However, I suspect that in the economy of God there would be little room for where a season where giving is so inequitable, where Christmas is both celebrated and dreaded, for a season of spending and not reflecting. 

Perhaps this Christmas is going to be the first of many where people find themselves contemplating what Christmas actually is about, if it’s not about seasonal over-consumption and over-spending.   And this, more than anything I will ever hear on the news, gives us all hope for 2009.

Peace this Christmas to you all.

My friend Brunette Koala is, and has gone so far as to forgo Christmas presents this year and instead is inviting people to give money to a couple of great charities. 

One is Edinburgh Sick Kids Foundation, which my own wee family feel very indebted to as our daughter has had two stays in there over the last 3 years, and the other is a pregnancy crisis centre, well worth supporting too and close to BK’s heart.  If you are feeling generous and would like to bless one or both of these amazing organisations go to brunette koala’s blog and follow the links on the right hand side.

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Go to the Barnardo's Believe campaign website.