by Megan Robertson
Santa Barbara A Rocha is participating in Advent Conspiracy. We want to encourage everyone to consider conspiring with us to celebrate Christmas in ways that truly honor the Christ child and show the world – and our loved ones what matters most to us. Advent Conspiracy is a movement that has been growing each year since its beginnings in 2006. The focus of Advent Conspiracy is to encourage Christ’s body to reconsider Christmas –to consider relational gifts over big-dollar (or even small-dollar) stuff, to consider giving more to those in need out of our surplus, and to simply stand against the tide of rampant consumption that marks our culture –especially at Christmastime.
Consider this year making a goal to spend more time with (and not so much money on) your loved ones. Our time and thoughtfulness make great gifts. It could be a special date with a sibling, spouse, child, or friend in which you do the things they like best. You can give restaurant certificates, museum or zoo memberships, or homemade coupons for special times together. Even consider serving our body or community together. Making a gift for a loved one does not have to be out of the question either –even if you don’t consider yourself crafty or creative. Try it on just one person even! Think of making the focus relational. Ask yourself, “How can I communicate that this person is important to me and make special memories in the process?” A new sweater or kitchen gadget, in the end, doesn’t really do it all that well anyway. For the gifts we do buy, work hard to purchase things that were fairly made –that respect human dignity and don’t harm God’s creation. We can purchase gifts that are life-giving to those who produced them – right here at Santa Barbara Community Church on November 23rd. And we’ll support the Borden’s ministry, Wild Hope, in Tanzania.
Not only do we honor those we love with more thoughtful, relational gifts, we also honor those in need that we may never know. Let’s seriously consider giving away the money we didn’t spend! The opportunities are everywhere. We can participate in Operation Christmas Child. You could give an extra gift to a missionary or your favorite ministry. Or simply give more at church. Many groups participating in Advent Conspiracy choose to give out of their surplus to Living Water, a ministry that brings clean water and the message of Jesus to villages all over Africa. In the end, what matters is that we try to live the message of God’s glory and peace to all people in the way we celebrate Christmas. Let’s see it as worship.
Lastly, when God’s people work to love the world while we’re in the world, and yet not of the world, we make a big statement. We don’t have to step out of celebrating. Jesus is worth celebrating! We just don’t have to do it like the world does. Let’s be counter-cultural in how we do Christmas – not just to be counter-cultural, but to remind ourselves and everyone else of what really matters –the baby Jesus who came to be in relationship with us.
Please check out the Advent Conspiracy website at: http://www.adventconspiracy.org/.