If Mary went shopping

Rosie Venner, Money Makes Change Programme Manager, calls for a different approach to Christmas spending this year, rooted in the values of Mary’s Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55).

The media would have us believe that Black Friday (27 November) is the beginning of Christmas. The biggest shopping day of the year is good news for some companies, but will our spending this year be good news for all? What do those bargains cost the earth and the poorest in society?

Instead of joining in the jingles of Black Friday and Christmas sales, let’s listen instead to the vision of a world turned upside down in Mary’s song (Luke 1: 53): “he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty”.

A typical household spends over £800 extra in December, so an average church of 40 households may be spending at least £32,000 in preparation for Christmas. We think carefully about our charitable giving. It’s time to pay the same attention to the money we spend and where it ends up in the economy.

Many people will not be spending money this year. JPIT’s Reset the Debt campaign reminds us that the financial impact of lockdown has been profoundly unequal. Low-income families with children were particularly badly hit. Contrast this with the excess profits made by some big companies. Oxfam reports that: “The world’s largest corporations are making billions at the expense of low wage workers and funnelling profits to shareholders and billionaires.”

Is the money we spend bringing comfort and joy to those who need it most? Or is it fuelling inequality, injustice and climate change?

What would Mary buy…? Here are four principles to transform the way you spend this Christmas.

Be content and give thanks | Stop and give thanks for what we have. The Buy Nothing Day campaign describes the warehouses, well-stocked in preparation for the Black Friday sales, as ‘aisles of organised landfill’. Unwanted presents, plastic packaging and food may all end up being thrown away.

Look beyond the advertising | All that glitters is not green (or ethical). If you have to shop, look for companies that treat their employees well, pay their taxes and are taking steps to reduce their carbon emissions.

Lift others up through your gifts | There are over 100,000 social enterprises across the country contributing £60 billion to the economy. If there’s something you need, whether that’s coffee, clothing or a box of chocolates, look for a business that lives out its values.

Help rebuild and restore | God promises to comfort all who mourn (Isaiah 61:2). Let’s use our resources to rebuild and restore people and places devastated by this challenging year. Who has the pandemic affected the most in your community? If you are spending money, choose to buy from those who have been hardest hit and then get involved in shaping an economy that protects the vulnerable.

These are four principles based on the underlying values of Mary’s Magnificat. What would you add? Tag us on social media and let us know.

As we retell the Christmas story this year, will we allow the revolutionary nature of Christ’s birth to reshape our spending in a way that lifts up our neighbours and restores the earth?

Why not watch our accompanying video, share it on social media or include it within your Church service?

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