How can we ignore the sights and sounds of Christmas bombarding us, and focus on this holy time? How can we give in the true spirit of Christ?
What is Advent Conspiracy?
We've celebrated Thanksgiving and now (if not already) are being faced with an onslaught of catalogs in the mail, ads on television for getting to the store in time for Black Friday sales, and the marketing push to buy, buy, buy now for Christmas. This Sunday we will begin a season of preparation . . . a season to help us get ready for the birth of Christ.
Advent Conspiracy was started in 2006 by five pastors who decided to make Christmas a revolutionary event by encouraging their faith communities to Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More and Love All. The response was overwhelming and the Conspiracy was born.
The vision for the project is a collaboration between Rick McKinley of Imago Dei Community in Portland, OR; Greg Holder from Windsor Crossing in St. Louis, MO; and Chris Seay of Ecclesia in Houston, TX.
Here are the four key phrases of Advent Conspiracy:
It starts with Jesus. It ends with Jesus. This is the holistic approach God had in mind for Chriatmsas. Its' a season where we are called to put down our burdens and life a song up to our God. Its' 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.
Before you think this is all about being Scrooge-like, consider this: Americans spend an average of $450 billion a year every Christmas. How often have you spent money on Christmas presents for no other reason that obligation? How many times have you received a gift out of that same obligation? Thanks, but no thanks, right? Advent Conspiracy asks 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 move available to celebrate Christ during the Advent season. Find ideas how to spend less at rethinkingchristmas.com.
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 sized too big, right?
When Jesus loved, He loved in ways never imagined. Though rich, he became poorer 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.