Remember when Christmas was a time of reflection on the birth of Jesus? When there wasn't the chaos of malls, shopping and spending; when the majority of our holiday time was spent on what matters most? Remember those days? Neither do I. Merchandisers want us to start celebrating early so they can make as much money over the next few months as possible. Just I last week walked into JC Penney's and heard Christmas music already. Right behind their bank of huge TVs were the beginnings of what I assume will be an increasing display of holiday paraphernalia. Frosted, plastic trees and such.
But for Missio Dei Church we want to start re-orienting our hearts and minds around the real meaning of Christmas. In this upcoming Advent season, Missio Dei Church will be participating in Advent Conspiracy. Advent Conspiracy exists to be a catalyst for the church to help us worship Jesus more fully at Christmas and therefore be transformed by the God of Advent. We believe that we are better together than we are apart and that each year the Advent of Christ should be an opportunity to declare to the world that God has given us the greatest gift.
As individuals, as families, and as a church, we need to ask ourselves if we are willing to declare to the world our love for Jesus as well as our love for the world. Advent Conspiracy encourages us to:
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.
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.
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?
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.
November 30 marks the beginning of the Advent season for the church. In this season, Missio Dei Church will be participating in Advent Conspiracy. Pray and discuss as a family and even extended as to how God is calling you and your family to participate.
During the Advent Season, we will be taking special Advent offerings during communion. All the proceeds will be going directly to the ministries that we support (Camp Manitoqua, John and Missy Camiola in Jos, Nigeria,). Please make checks payable to Missio Dei Church with Advent written on the memo line.
I think it is time we take back Christmas.