Summary: Rethinking Christmas Before It’s Too Late … Again This Year
Rethinking Christmas Before It’s Too Late … Again This Year.*
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Well, I know that seems a bit early but you wouldn’t know it when you walk in some stores. Right next to Halloween decorations you find a Christmas aisle! Not to mention – that Christmas is only 66 days away.
What I am trying to say is … Christmas is already on the local retailers radar and they have a VERY specific agenda regarding how they want you to celebrate it.
I contend that our faith offers a more wholesome alternative to celebrating Christmas than the retailers are offering – it is worshipping the Christ.
This morning I am going to introduce you to this year’s Advent theme. We will look at it in more detail beginning on the first Sunday of Advent; November 30, 2014.
Actually, what I am really hoping to do is introduce you to a new way of “doing Christmas.” It is a project my family and I have been working on and struggling with for a many years. I minimizes the consumer aspects and emphasis the Christ aspects. It’s not a “Bah! Humbug!” mentality – it is a worshipful and celebrative opportunity and, for me, it makes Christmas far more satisfying and meaningful.
In 2006 a group of Pastor’s got together for fellowship and began to talk about the frustration they felt personally and professionally when the Christmas season rolled around. They shared their feelings of failure to help their congregations rise above consumerism and they discussed their feelings of betrayal because secularism has co-opted the season.
They were looking and praying for a way to circumvent the stranglehold that secularism had placed on Christmas. And they devised a workable “conspiracy” to reclaim the season. That conspiracy became known as “The Advent Conspiracy” and it has not only met the need for those congregations but it has been spreading ever since to thousands of other congregations.
Advent conspiracy does more than simply help us rethink Christmas – it actually helps us redefine our lives as people of faith. The principles of Advent Conspiracy can affect us 52 weeks a year – not just in the month of December.
It plays very nicely into Jesus’ passion (and ours) to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and our neighbor as ourselves.
Advent, you may remember, is the four weeks that lead up to Christmas. They are designed / intended to be times of preparation and reflection upon the coming of Christ – not only His first coming but also His second coming. They are intended to make us receptive and open to have a fresh encounter with Christ during the season … think of Advent as being the season to experience a personal coming of Christ into your life.
Let me ask you:
• Do you find the Christmas season to be less than satisfying?
• Do you come to the end of the season thinking (maybe even saying) “Is this all there is?”
• Do you wish that you could restructure your Christmas season and maybe even re-invent it so that it has more depth, more value, more meaning for you and for those you choose to bless during the season?
And I think Advent Conspiracy can do for you what it has done for me. It can give you a few ideas that, although simple, will radically impact you, your family, your friends, and our church. As with the weeks in the Advent season – the suggested ideas are four in number.
1. WORSHIPPING FULLY
I place this one first because this one provides the motivation, courage, and faith for the remaining three. You see, loving God with our whole being (worshipping fully) helps us return to the prescribed activity of the first Christmas. It does not matter whether you look at angels, wise men, or shepherds; they worshipped fully – they were fully engaged – they were fully Christ-centered.
Sadly though – many of us feel we are too far from the stable to see the Christ. We are searching for hope, peace, rest, love, community, but with every step we take inside the mall we feel we are moving further away from the nativity. It seems that the time of year that should be easiest for us to worship Christ becomes the hardest.
The invitation (and challenge) of Advent Conspiracy is remain in the Gospel of Jesus and worship Him – no matter how strong the pull of cultural demands become.