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Summary: This sermon is the first of a four sermon series for a church that is supporting International Justice Mission through Advent Conspiracy. This sermon elaborates on the topic of Worshipping Fully in the Advent season by exploring sciptures in Isaiah, encou

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Worship Fully — Escape the Noise

Isaiah 58

This sermon is one in a four-part series encouraging congregations as they join the Advent Conspiracy and Give More, Spend Less, Worship Fully and Love All. For the remainder of the sermon series, visit www.IJM.org/adventconspiracy.

1. Introduction to Advent Conspiracy

 The holiday season often brings on two competing emotions: Quiet anticipation, and escalating stress.

 This seems to be true both for people of faith and for people of no faith. In a strange way, we can easily wind up in the same boat. The season seems to catch us in its vortex, whirl us about and spit us out into the New Year with the equivalent of a holiday hangover.

 But what if this year were different? What if there were a way to approach the season that would maximize anticipation and reflection and minimize stress and anxiety?

 This season, along with thousands of churches around the world, we’ve entered into something called the Advent Conspiracy. As a church, we’re going to live out our belief that Christmas can still change the world—and that it can still change us!

 Together, this season we will be journeying together through four simple commitments. We will explore these themes over the next four weeks of Christmas.

o Worship Fully. It starts with Jesus. It ends with Jesus. Advent is a season where love wins, peace reigns and a King is celebrated with each breath. Entering the story of Advent means entering this season with an overwhelming passion to worship Jesus to the fullest.

o Spend Less. This doesn’t mean that we won’t spend anything at Christmas – just consider buying one less gift this Christmas. We all might remember our favorite gift from last Christmas, but do you remember your third or fourth gift? I didn’t think so.

o Give More – more of your time, your energy, and your presence. We’ll be people who give more relationally to those we love – so take your kids sledding, spend some time with your mom watching old holiday movies, or make a gift that turns into the next family heirloom.

o Love All. When Jesus loved, he loved in ways never before imagined. Though rich, he became poor to love the forgotten, the sick, and the oppressed. He reached out to the margins. By spending less at Christmas, we have the opportunity to join him in giving resources to those who need it 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.

 Four commitments: Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More and Love All. Simple, but not easy. So we’ll take them one week at a time. We’ll lay out a clear, biblical foundation and offer lots of practical steps your family can take to join the Conspiracy this season. This week, we explore what it means to Worship Fully in the Advent season.

2. Re-centering amidst the Noise

 As a nation, we will spend an estimated $450 billion on Christmas this year. That’s a lot of dollars. In fact, if we stacked up all those dollar bills, then tipped that huge stack over on its side, it would stretch across this room, out the door and across the city—and then around the circumference of the world and back to this sanctuary. And there’d still be a stack 10,000 miles high left over. (Total height of stack of $450b dollar bills ~35,000 miles).

o Some of this money we spend at Christmas is invested in great, worthy things: special meals, thoughtful gifts and travel that reunites families.

o But much of it will be spent on gifts that no one really needs: another sweater, another toy, another tie.

 We find ourselves amidst a cultural “noise” that starts out right around Thanksgiving. From decorations to songs to advertisements to holiday parties —it’s everywhere, all the time and it’s deafening. This noise can make any worship at all quite difficult—never mind Worshiping Fully.

 Worship is about honoring God with our whole lives to acknowledge who God is, what God has done, and what God continues to do.

 So the fact that it can be especially difficult for some of us during the Advent season is quite ironic indeed. The “noise” can get so loud that drowns out all the other voices –like that of the prophet Isaiah. Read Isaiah 9:6-7.

 Our goal this year is to make sure this all-important voice is not drowned out during the season. We must stay grounded in the beautiful reality of Christmas: a child has been born for us, a son given to us. The Advent of God with us changed everything. It changed the history of the world, and it changes us.

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