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

7 Responses to “Yes, But: The Tensions of Advent Conspiracy”

  1. 1 Matt September 23, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    A question I have:

    If my fiance’ and I, when married and have children, decide not to participate in the “Santa Clause Effect” how would we best communicate that with our children when their cousins, classmates, etc, do receive gifts from Santa? I’d hate for one of my children to spoil it for their classmates. Yet maybe we choose not to go the santa route. That is for sure a complicated thing to deal with and communicate. Any thoughts from folks out there?

  2. 2 Nancy September 30, 2008 at 9:58 pm

    So when my now 24 year old daughter was 5 some kindergartner got expelled from school in a small town near Madison for telling her classmates that there was no Santa…I then had to convince my daughter to keep the “there really isn’t a Santa” secret just between us. Very funny!

  3. 3 Jenn October 6, 2008 at 9:46 am

    Thank you for this fresh, honest approach to the Advent Conspiricy. When I first heard Blackhawk was going to do this, I was too neverous, apprehensive, excited, and afraid at what my non-believing family would think. I am excited to hear more, and to see what God can do with a group of people who are willing to set aside what our culture has deemed an appropriate response, and listen to what God’s approach to Christmas would be.

  4. 4 Andy Muller October 10, 2008 at 8:49 pm

    As a young person (23) who has been pursuing an advent conspiracy-like Christmas for a couple years (for environmental, economical and spiritual reasons), I can confirm that what lies ahead is not all smooth seas. Last Christmas I asked my parents (who are Christ-followers) not to buy my wife and I anything, but rather to just spend time with us, and, if they really felt the need to spend money, to put it towards our relocation to Italy as missionaries (Just so you don’t get the wrong idea, they are behind us becoming missionaries). Nevertheless, Christmas came and we found numerous boxes under the tree. Needless to say, there was no good way to explain we weren’t all that excited about our wishes having been disregarded. The more I thought about it though, I realized that our asking them to buck the status-quo (giving lots of gifts) was disregarding their wishes as well. That doesn’t make our desire any less valid, but it doesn’t make it any easier either.

    What am I trying to say with all this? That while God is almost certainly in our challenging this aspect of our culture, we shouldn’t expect it to go quietly…nor should we expect the opponents of change to come exclusively from outside the Church. But even if our cause is just, the call to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) should ring in our ears just as loudly now as it ever does if we are not to (further) alienate our friends and family.

  5. 5 Shere-Ling October 18, 2008 at 2:31 am

    Nearly twenty years ago, I learned from Menlo Pres folks spending time in the nursing home during Christmas and gave gifts to the needy in the neighborhood. Nearly ten years ago, I participated in giving gift box to nursing home with Willow Creek folks. Around the same time, I also placed a gift under the tree for a local church’s after school program. These are all wonderful memories that I have with Christmas.

  6. 6 Nancy Lindroth October 20, 2008 at 8:37 am

    What a great reminder, Andy, of remembering to speak the truth in LOVE. Love all should include our family members who long for us to accept their expression of love to us in their gifts.

  1. 1 Give Your Kids a Chance to Give More « Blackhawk’s Advent Conspiracy Trackback on October 13, 2008 at 12:35 pm

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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.


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