By Rob McClelland
Whether your family is still in your house from the Thanksgiving holiday or you still find yourself in a tryptophan induced funk, Thanksgiving is over and so begins the official start to the Christmas season. (Costco has been selling Christmas ornaments since mid-August, I think.)
The Christmas season is one where many reconnect with friends and family. It is also the season where we busy ourselves with shopping, baking, hosting, and attending. We talk about all of our many blessings that have happened throughout the year. We also talk about the stress of preparing, shopping, planning, hosting, baking, and attending. We write Christmas cards to family and friends, relaying the highlights from the year gone by. We also write checks, sign credit receipts, and wonder if we will be able to get everything done that needs to be done before Christmas.
Isn’t it sad that the Christmas season has become one characterized by hyper-stress, hyper-consumerism, shopping stampedes, Black Friday blitzes, and debt. Even local radio station ads are offering money to people to help pay off last year’s credit card bills, so they can be filled up again this Christmas. This breaks my heart. Christmas was never meant to look like this.
It is helpful for me to pause at the beginning of the holidays, to consider prayerfully what’s really important, and to decide which Christmas narrative I want to participate in this year: a narrative of over-consumption or the foundational narrative of the Church, which can be summed up in four words: “…and God draws near.” I believe that is our founding story, the pattern of Scripture, and the arc of human history.
Last month, in preparation for the Advent season, I laid out our plan for Advent 2017. It was a BIG plan, which included impacting our local community in a major way. We are setting the goal of $25,000 this Advent to be used to help those within our local community who are down on their luck, along with those local ministries we are partnered with – like Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Lago Vista Neighbor, and Room4Hope.
Even though that is a BIG plan, the harder part is committing ourselves to participate in the Conspiracy – to Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More, and Love All. If we, as a church family, can commit to those things, we might see Christmas become a scandalous, world-changing event once again.
So, here’s the challenge: Will you commit to making the next four weeks about plotting a Conspiracy? Will you commit to preparing your heart through worship to be ready for God to impact your life in a major way? Will you commit to spend less money on the consumeristic side of Christmas, saving that money or using it for the good of those less fortunate within our community? Will you commit to give more gifts of presence – making gifts which are thoughtful, meaningful, which give of your most valuable commodity…your time? And will you commit to love others within our community by giving generously to this Conspiracy?
Each one of these tenets of the Advent Conspiracy build on one another. If you commit to worship fully, you will not want to spend as much on the cultural Christmas, but give more of yourself to others. This will of course lead to more love being shared.
Join us this Advent in Plotting a Conspiracy!
If you would like to participate, you can do so in one of two ways:
1. Make a general donation during worship and write Advent Conspiracy on the memo line.
2. Contact me via email: AdventConspiracyAtFaith@gmail.com with a request to be involved specifically, and we will work with you to get you specifically involved with helping a person, family, or ministry partner organization.
Take some time this Advent to prayerfully consider breaking the familiar ritual of the secular Christmas and bring new meaning to the Advent Season by worshipping fully, choosing to spend less money and give more relationally, to impact the lives of family and friends!