Advent Conspiracy 101

Primary Audience – Our local evangelical congregation, especially those who have lost the joy of gift buying.
Secondary Audience – Compassionate people ;-)

I mentioned the Advent Conspiracy in my sermon this past week, posted a link on Facebook and have received a decent response (and one or two confused ones) so I thought I would elaborate further.

Here’s the 101 – So many of us have a heightened anxiety during the Christmas Holiday season. From the gift-buying, the traffic, the coming credit card bill, parties and the complexities brought upon by family dynamics. Clearly, this is not what God had in mind when He decided to dwell among us.

A couple pastors, Rick Mickinley and Chris Seay, got together and asked what if we could get our churches to conspire to celebrate Christmas the way we as Christ-followers should? What would that look like? And as they ask on their website, “What if Christmas became a world-changing event again?” (You can read a fuller story at Collide Magazine).

Taken from their website, here are their “four simple ideas”:
Worship Fully.
Christmas is about Jesus. Full worship isn’t about more church services. It’s about everything, everywhere.
Spend Less.
Christmas is about turning love into a human, not a thing. Americans spend $400 billion on Christmas—we think a better party is possible.
Give More.
Christmas is about God giving himself away to the people he loves. Why don’t we do the same?
Love All.
Christmas is about love without borders or boundaries. We’re here to help your love be the same.

I echoed in Sunday’s message that we will spend $400 billion on Christmas gifts this year. And according to the World Bank, it would take between $10-30 billion to provide clean water and adequate sanitation to people (The $20 billion dollar difference is a measure of quality). AC has partnered with Living Water International to help bring clean water to people.

Why water and what does it have to do with Christmas? Because 1.1 billion people don’t have access to clean drinking water. “At Living Water International, we are addressing this most basic of needs by helping deprived communities acquire safe, clean water. Our goal is to substantially ease the global water crisis while addressing root causes such as injustice, oppression, and abject poverty. As this happens, communities and worldviews are transformed—both among those in desperate physical need, and among those who have been blessed with much.” read more on the water crisis on their website.

Some of my friends and our youth group have been participating in the Advent Conspiracy for a few years now. Along with a couple other practices, this has changed the way we celebrate Christmas, including gift-buying. For those we love and don’t know what to get, we’ve decided to give fair-trade items (such as coffee from places like One Village) or shirts/dvds of worthy causes like Invisible Children and use the money that we save from buying say a $20 gift instead of a $40 and donate the difference. As you can see, it adds up. Further, it creates conversation with our loved ones about why we choose to give them a dvd about human trafficking. Last year, one recipient said, “This is good because I don’t need another action movie.”

Every so often someone will ask me “But what does this have to do with Jesus?”. In all honesty, I think a lot and frankly a lot more than giving a tie or a Applebee’s Gift Certificate. But watch this video and hear from the gift recipients themselves.

Christmas [is] changing the world from Living Water International on Vimeo.

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