My name is John, and I'm one of the co-founders of The Renew Project in Oakland. We're honored to join in this year's Make Something Party at Christ Church! Let me tell you why my family is getting involved, and why you really should join us on Sunday, December 6:
- I'll spend less on Christmas. I've done the "Black Friday" thing in the past, and my stomach has hit the floor when the bills come due. It's fairly obvious that our economy isn't at its' most vibrant stage ever, but should we sacrifice our financial peace to help retailers cover their losses? Christmas is a beautiful time to reflect on the indescribable gift of God and the blessing of family and friends - and spending often creates an unhelpful distraction. By making stuff, I'm reminding myself that what matters isn't what I spend, but how I live.
- My gifts will be more meaningful. Seriously, your brother-in-law can live without the 500,000th copy of Transformers 2, even if it is on sale for only four hours at a ridiculously low price. Bargain prices don't always equate with quality, especially when we have the opportunity to create one-of-a-kind masterpieces for our friends and family. Our gifts will mean more to the people we care about most, and they won't lose their sentimental value as quickly as something mass-produced on an assembly line. By making stuff, I'm giving away objects that are connected to my personality and the story of my relationships.
- I'll have the freedom to invest in something worthwhile. With the money I save on Christmas, I can help do something truly radical - like helping to eradicate extreme poverty in Africa. I can help dig a clean water well or invest in a micro loan to empower a woman in a developing country to start her own business. These are gifts that will outlast a single day under the tree, gifts that can potentially shift the trajectory of a person's entire life. By making stuff, I'm living into a new imagination about the power of my wealth to change the world for good.
- I get to practice creativity. Too often I forget that I was formed, in my mother's womb, "fearfully and wonderfully" by an amazingly creative being, (Psalm 139). Virtually everything in life these days seems to be pre-packaged, technologically-enhanced and marketed to my unique tastes. I could potentially get by without ever practicing creativity again. But what kind of life would that be? By making stuff, I'm tapping into the creative energies that were lovingly placed in me by our Father in heaven.
John O'Hara is co-founder of The Renew Project,a new community in Oakland that is inviting people into the creative mission of God through Jesus-centered Action and Life Integration. Learn more at their website, www.therenewproject.org.
John is married to Serena and together they have two insanely beautiful boys, Gabriel and Joshua. They're moving to Oakland in 2010.