Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Advent Conspiracy

Our church is doing something different this year. For the next four weeks, we are joining a movement calling us to proclaim Christ in how we celebrate Christmas. The concept behind Advent Conspiracy is simple:
1.) Worship Fully
2.) Spend Less
3.) Give More
4.) Love All
Check out www.AdventConspiracy.org to find out more.

If you've bought into the American Dream of Christmas, then the Advent Conspiracy might be a first step away from it. The challenge is to buy one less gift this Christmas. Just one.

This past Sunday, the image to the left was on the screen during our worship service. This week, God has shown me how many around me are pushing the gift cart instead of seeking Christ. There were many posts on FB about shopping on Black Friday. Many more comments about shopping than what people were thankful for the day before - Thanksgiving. Is this a reflection of our hearts? A young couple I know has six different Christmas trees decorated in their house - each with a different theme. There is even a tree in the bathroom! Yesterday at SAMS, the woman in front of me spent - no lie - over $600 on Christmas decorations. $600! On baubles and balls! This week, I've heard about people just "buying something" for their parents because they don't know what to give them. At another store, I found myself checking out behind a couple with two shopping carts full of gifts for their children. Two children. Two carts. I know because I asked them. "Are you getting started with your shopping?" The man replied, "Yes trying to start early for our two kids." Two carts, heaping over. What will these children grow up believing Christmas is about?

I-Pod Touches? PSPs? Video Games? Kindles? Name Brand Clothes? House Decor? Expensive Jewelry? Flat Screens? New, New, New. Better. More updated. Come On! You've gotta keep up!

But, where do we draw the line? What is the meaning of where we are spending our resources?

All of this saddens me.

Is this what Christmas has become? Why have we allowed it? What have we bought into? Does our giving reflect the priorities found in scripture?

From the beginning, Reid and I have only given three gifts to each of our boys - just like the wise men brought to Jesus. Someone suggested this to us before Mason was born, and it has helped us limit our giving within our family. Our Christmas budget has never been very large, but this year, however, even our normal spending seems like too much.

This year, we are striving to

instead of "presents" to our boys.

Even before attending the Sunday service, our family had decided to have a "different Christmas" this year. We all decided - all six of us - not to give any gifts which had been purchased to each other. Instead, we are writing letters to each person in our family. Stockings will be filled with the only surprises on Christmas morning this year. We decided - all six of us - to use any resources we have to help us travel to bring Overcomer home and give to others in need. There are other families making the same choice. The Bowling Family for one. No gifts, no tree. Money is stewarded better in other ways.

However, I love to receive gifts! (To be honest, within our family, I may have the hardest time of anyone on Christmas Day not receiving any presents to open.) Last year, someone left us some anonymous gifts. Those gifts were such a blessing Christmas morning. (Thank you again to whoever sent them!) It's been several years since Reid and I have exchanged gifts - spending instead on our children. And, how blessed we are to do so!

My love language is gifts. I love to give. Giving is part of who I am. Not buying for our boys will be difficult for me. Trust me, I'll be very creative with their stockings. We are still giving gifts to one another. However, the gifts we give will allow our funds to be used in other ways. Hopefully, even many of the ones we purchase will help others at the same time. There are a few gifts I will still give to others this Christmas. I'm hoping to purchase many of them and help others at the same time. Read my post about the Party with a Purpose to find out more. What a blessing to give a gift with meaning! One that provides HOPE for someone else.

If we are here this Christmas, and not in Ghana, our home will once again be open to friends. We will open the best gift of Christmas - The Baby Jesus - for our nativity set and celebrate Him on Christmas morning. Mathiang will connect our hearts to Africa with his Dinka song and dance which he performs every Christmas Eve with our family. We will enjoy the pleasure of being surrounded by family on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Grandparents, Parents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, and our extended family of precious friends! All of this is if we are here, instead of in Ghana. Please pray alongside us to know what to do.

Last night, we hung our stockings. Eight decorate our mantle...Reid, Robin, Mathiang, Mason, Franklin, Weston, Braden, and Overcomer. Overcomer's in the only one without a monogrammed name. As Weston was driving another nail in to hang the new stocking, this verse kept ringing through my head...
The stockings were hung
By the chimney with care
In hopes that little Overcomer
Soon would be there...

I suppose that is all we want this Christmas. To have him home. With us. No other gift would fill our hearts as this.

One who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth
and one who gives gifts to the rich—both come to poverty.
Proverbs 22:16

Be a Blessing,

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