Teetering between the waiting of Advent and the joy of Christmas, The Song of Mary--the Magnificat-- in Luke’s Gospel is one of those sections of scripture that pulls it all together for me.
My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.
I find the words of this early Christian hymn echoing in my mind, and no matter how many times I have read it, heard it read, or heard a version of it sung in worship, I always find myself having a sort of epiphany when I hear it.
Mary’s joy has a prophetic edge to it.
She has received news of an incredible gift--she will have a son. But her gift is not hers alone. Like the prophet Isaiah, for Mary, the birth of Jesus signifies dignity for the poor, food for the hungry, and God’s enduring care. Mary, herself a young, vulnerable woman, sees incredible possibility in the promise of her child: not only for her own sake, but for all of those who long for hope to replace their hopelessness:
For the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly;
He has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.
Like the words of so many women throughout history and around the world, Mary’s words not only celebrate life and the presence of God, but also call us to live out our deepest joys, heart-held concerns, and boldest commitments in all of the things we do.
That's why Week of Compassion has teamed up with partners old and new to promote unique, life-changing gifts for celebrating Christmas this year. Our gifts can reflect our values, and as we share smiles and presents this holiday season, we can also share in ways that bring joy, create new opportunity, and share skills with our neighbors near and far.
Prosperity Candle, a new partner with whom we’ve teamed up this holiday season, empowers and accompanies refugee women who are making new lives for themselves. Sales of their handcrafted candles allow them to earn a living wage. In addition, Prosperity Candle will donate 10% of your purchase to support the Week of Compassion Women's Empowerment Fund.
Equal Exchange, one of the most-trusted fair trade companies in North America, has a variety of gifts for the coffee lover, tea drinker, and chocoholic in your life. For example, EE’s African Gift Box supports the efforts of women as mothers, daughters, sisters and farmers. Together with the Panzi Foundation in the D.R. Congo (a Week of Compassion partner through IMA World Health!) and BeadforLife® in Uganda, Equal Exchange is helping to build East African economies through income generation and to support women that have been affected by violence. The African Gift Box contains specialty products that inspire hope and encourage change while supporting our sisters in need at the Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Purchases through Equal Exchange’s Interfaith Store not only help provide a fair price for small scale farmers worldwide, but also support Week of Compassion’s food security-related sustainable development projects.
You may also choose to support our partners at Church World Service through their Best Gift catalogue. These gifts help support a wide array of Church World Service projects, including food security, access to water, education and micro-finance.
And as always, you can give a gift to Week of Compassion in the name of someone you love and admire, demonstrating that sharing--with those we love and with those we are yet to know--does indeed bring joy.
As our hearts continue to travel on the path from Advent contemplation to Christmas celebration, may our souls, like Mary’s, magnify God’s gracious love for the world; may, too, our gifts reflect our commitment to the dignity of all of God’s people and the care of all creation.