Archive for September, 2008

Yes, But: The Tensions of Advent Conspiracy

At the core, Advent Conspiracy motivates me to think differently, to enter into the true Christmas story. It inspires me to get off the holiday train of busyness, consumption, stress, and to slow down to spend time with Jesus, the true center of the season.

But just as ideas of personal participation bounce around in my head, so do questions of what this might mean for me. My family? Our church? I can’t help but recognize the internal tensions and struggles the movement creates. And I suspect I am not alone.

Yes, I want to worship God fully, BUT what does that look like in the day-to-day? How do I worship God while I’m running errands, shoveling the sidewalks, searching for the perfect present? How does it affect the way I plan out my schedule – does it mean saying “no” (or “yes”?) to holiday party invitations? How can I slow down and thoughtfully approach what it means to worship God in the midst of the chaos of Christmas?

Yes, I think it’s great to spend less, BUT I worked in retail for 14 years. Forty percent of our business occurred over 6 weeks. Keeping the doors open was totally reliant on strong Christmas sales. There is a huge tension we face: our economy’s health depends on our consumption. But our consumption is out of control, harming the environment, harming some of us as we go into debt. What do I do with this dilemma?

And there is the fear (concern?) about communicating the “Conspiracy” ideas to my extended family: “No gifts for me this year. Instead I’d like you to write a check to my church for a special offering to bring clean water to the world.” Are you kidding? My brother would think I had gone off the deep end. That would not be relational giving in my context!

The truth is, I always struggle with Christmas spending for my kids (who are now 21 and 24). I feel like they will somehow feel slighted if they don’t get “enough.” It’s a downer when on Christmas morning it takes 30 minutes to open gifts, instead of the traditional 3 hours. I should be over this by now, but the thought that my kids will see what Johnny got from “Santa,” and wonder why their belief in Jesus means they are deprived, continues to be a battle in my head. These are tough issues.

There are no easy answers. There is something good about living in the tension, yet it makes it hard to choose the next step. That’s good; it puts us on our knees asking the right questions.

As we come together as a community of Christ-followers and enter into the true story of Christmas this year, it will look different for each one of us. I will personally commit to a couple of things:

• I will seriously consider and talk to God about how He wants me to respond.
• I will be a cheerleader for all who are taking any step. Whether it is a small step or a giant leap, I want to encourage God’s work in them.
• I won’t succumb to comparing what I decide to do with what others decide to do or not do – no guilt, no condemnation.
• I will pray that God will do His mighty work in each of us individually and as a community, that He will help us live as those who have the Holy Spirit alive inside, because that is who we are!

I hope you’ll join the conspiracy, and share your experiences and thoughts on this blog. What are the tensions for you? Comment on this post (just underneath the title) and join in the conversation. Together we can take back Christmas.

written by Nancy Lindroth


Love All

Act Local: Share gifts of time and resources with those in our community. At the Impact Tree in the Atrium, find opportunities available for individuals, families and life groups. All the information you need will be on the cards by the Tree. Take a card – put an ornament on the tree.

Give Global: On Sunday, December 13 during services, we'll take up an Advent Conspiracy offering (a direct result of spending less) to give towards clean water projects and wheelchair needs in Honduras, Kenya and Romania. If you won’t be able to join us at services on that day but still want to participate, just write "Advent" in the memo of your check and drop it in any of the offering boxes.