Monday, November 17, 2008

Advent Conspiracy

This last weekend was our church retreat at Twin Rocks. It was a good time to connect with friends and meet some new ones.

The theme for the weekend centered around the passage in Mark that tells us to love God and love others as ourselves. On Sunday we watched a video from the Advent Conspiracy. (To see the video, click here, and then scroll down to the video called, "Enter The Story.") The idea is to give presence instead of presents this year for Christmas. But it goes beyond that. It's reclaiming the original purpose of Christmas. It's realizing that $10 can give a child clean water for life and that $10 billion dollars is all it will take to solve the clean water problem in our world. Americans spent $450 billion on Christmas last year. So, if every person pledged to buy one less present this year and spend that money on helping with this problem, we could really start to see some change.

Our family has begun to talk about what we can do. Last year, instead of spending tons of money just to buy each other random gifts, we pooled our money together and bought a bicycle for a missionary in need. I am excited about passing this tradition down to my own children someday.

The following 4 points are taken from the Advent Conspiracy website.

Worship Fully.

It starts with Jesus. It ends with Jesus. This is the holistic approach God had in mind for Christmas. It’s a season where we are called to put down our burdens and lift a song up to our God. It’s a season where love wins, peace reigns, and a king is celebrated with each breath. It’s the party of the year. Entering the story of advent means entering this season with an overwhelming passion to worship Jesus to the fullest.

Spend Less.

Before you think we’re getting all Scrooge on you, let us explain what we mean. We like gifts. Our kids really like gifts. But consider this: America spends an average of $450 billion a year every Christmas. How often have you spent money on Christmas presents for no other reason than obligation? How many times have you received a gift out of that same obligation? Thanks, but no thanks, right? We’re asking people to consider buying ONE LESS GIFT this Christmas. Just one.  Sounds insignificant, yet many who have taken this small sacrifice have experienced something nothing less than a miracle: They have been more available to celebrate Christ during the advent season.

Give More.

God’s gift to us was a relationship built on love. So it’s no wonder why we’re drawn to the idea that Christmas should be a time to love our friends and family in the most memorable ways possible. Time is the real gift Christmas offers us, and no matter how hard we look, it can’t be found at the mall. Time to make a gift that turns into the next family heirloom. Time to write mom a letter. Time to take the kids sledding. Time to bake really good cookies and sing really bad Christmas carols. Time to make love visible through relational giving. Sounds a lot better than getting a sweater two sizes too big, right? Need a few ideas? (Head here!)

Love All.

When Jesus loved, He loved in ways never imagined. Though rich, he became poor to love the poor, the forgotten, the overlooked and the sick. He played to the margins. By spending less at Christmas we have the opportunity to join Him in giving resources to those who need help the most. When Advent Conspiracy first began four churches challenged this simple concept to its congregations. The result raised more than a half million dollars to aid those in need. One less gift. One unbelievable present in the name of Christ.

In what ways do you plan to be intentional in celebrating the true spirit of Christmas??


cherice said...

Thanks, Melissa! I look forward to checking out this site. Our family has tried to do this kind of thing for several years, too--we give money to organizations with which we agree, or buy goats and such for people who need them, or trees to plant in Africa, or what have you. It's great...but at the same time it's hard. Because of the way we've been enculturated it feels weird to not have that "centerpiece" of Christmas day, the gift-giving time, the time of gathering around the tree and seeing that look of delight when you give something the other person really enjoys. Why is it so hard to get that same sense of joy when we know another person will have enough to eat this year??? So we'll keep trying, and try to become more and more humble each year, and not feel obligated....

Jim said...

Brilliant stuff, friend. I like it. Christmas is going to be a little odd this year away from family and friends, but it helps to be connected to the heart of the season with those who are close to us. I hope you keep up your prophetic voice! It's needed.