An Encouragement to Particpate in the Advent Conspiracy

I’m one of those no Christmas music til after Thanksgiving people. I have made a few exceptions like Bob Dylan’s new Christmas album and the amazing Sufjan boxset but what I am really thinking about is Advent. Really, I am. For many years, I’ve always felt unprepared for this season but not this one, friends. I even considered writing a pre-advent devotional book entitled “Get Ready to Get Ready” but I got pretty discouraged that the material pretty much was the Christian life. You know stuff like, “As we prepare our hearts to prepare our hearts, let us reflect on what it means to have the presence of Jesus with us now.” Currently, I’ve retitled the project to “Just Another Devotional in Distribution”. My imaginary editor told me that acronyms are sellers in the Christian retail world so “JADID”.)

Well as you can tell from the deep outpourings of my heart that I am ready for Advent. Similar to last year, I’ll focus on certain parts of Scripture, use a particular devotional, and am considering a couple other practices that I do not know how to communicate properly. But among them will be the Advent Conspiracy.

As a youth group, we have set a goal and I am hoping the Second Mile community will participate in some way too. I keep sharing our experience from last year, hopefully not out of a sense of self-righteousness but last year was one of my favorite Christmases. The short story and to keep it specific to AC was that Susan and I simply bought bags of fair trade coffee (from One Village) for most people, a few books (ask my sr. pastor which Tony Jones book he got), a restaurant gift certifcate and donated the money we saved. We bought a couple “normal” gifts for Nathan and each other (Susan got a macbook …. in October and I bought books that I would have bought anyway but this time … even more guilt-free. But they were great answers to people who measure your goodness by what you purchase for loved ones at Christmastime ;-) Anyway, I think I went to the mall twice: once we took Nathan to see Santa (which he didn’t enjoy) and once to buy something for a non-coffee drinking person – fruitcake of course. This year I plan on giving coffee, subscriptions to magazines like Generate and some Invisible Children items.

Everyone I know, and I think I mean literally everyone, has lamented to me at one time or another the absolute frustration of Christmas shopping and has complained of its commercialization. I am sure they have complained to you too.  So everyone we know feels this way. The Conspiracy helps counter that. I know some will think, “You don’t understand, I have a family that expects Christmas gifts – nice ones!” – yes that makes you American, welcome. Or more common, “I just don’t have anything left to give” – seriously, that’s what the Advent Conspiracy is about. Spending less, so you can give more and spend that time that you would have thinking what to get for the person that doesn’t want anything, shopping anyway and wrapping the stupid thing so at the end of it all, you can be closer to Jesus. You now get to redeem that time and hopefully do something constructive with it – you may even choose to worship (and I don’t mean just on Sundays and I don’t mean just in “quiet times”) but imagine worshipping during the Christmas season and spending time with people you love and maybe even showing love to those you don’t know.

Know that I and others like me are not trying to create a new legalism here. It would be easy to do that and may the Lord guard our hearts from that. If your Christmas is fine the way it is, disregard the advice and worship the way you would normally. But if you curse every time you hear “So This Is Christmas”, it may be time for a change.

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