Earlier this week I heard a story on the radio about the holiday shopping season being six days shorter because of how late Thanksgiving is this year. But listeners and retailers alike were told not to worry, because technically the holiday shopping season is already upon us. As I reflected on this story, I realized I have been receiving emails from retailers informing me of their Black Friday sales that are already underway.
The opportunity to interrupt the cycle of consumerism by focusing instead on alternative Christmas gifts has been a tradition at BMPC for over 25 years. Each year members of our community take advantage of the items, organizations and projects available to support, and in 2018 more than 200 households purchased alternative gifts through the AGM with donations totaling more than $25,000.
When we celebrate these numbers every January, we also take time to consider the impact these gifts have beyond the support they give to our partners and the work they are doing. Because giving alternative gifts through AGM gives each of us the unique opportunity to tell our friends and family the story of mission in this church.
When people explain why they are members of this particular congregation, it is often because of the extensive work we do in mission and outreach in Greater Philadelphia and around the world. It is a source of pride for folks to be able to say they belong to a church that gives away over $500,000 in mission dollars each year to more than 60 different organizations.
That little white card you receive to insert into your holiday cards and gifts for friends, your children’s teachers, or family members across the country, describes the good work of 17 of our partners, work that connects with the values and priorities of our congregation supporting:
- the educational and creative lives of all children
- the physical and mental health of people in our community and around the world
- the feeding of many people who are food insecure
- those who have been displaced in our world in need of welcome and care
- the deep belief that all people have the right to be safe and cared for
If you have never purchased a gift through our Advent Gift Market, I strongly encourage you to look through the 2019 Catalogue as a way to learn more about the work BMPC is doing in mission, to attend the opening Market celebration in Congregational Hall on Sun., Nov. 17 after worship, and even shop online at www.bmpc.org. (The AGM site will be available on Nov. 17.)
We made sure we won’t lose any days during our AGM shopping season - with tables for purchases set up every Sunday until Christmas, giving you a total of 38 days to shop AGM this year! May each and every gift given this year be an expression of our gratitude for the coming of Christ, and appreciation for our community and our loved ones, and an acknowledgment of the good and faithful work of our partners.