12.01.2011

**it's a conspiracy!** (want in on it?!)


A  D   V   E   N   T :



Growing up, "advent" in our house officially began on December 1st, when a little stuffed Santa would be tucked into the first pocket on our cheery quilted calendar, replacing a tiny ornament that was subsequently hung on an artificial table-top tree. 

Sometimes, my brother and I would each get a flat cardboard version, within which tiny novelty chocolates were hidden behind perforated flaps. To my joyful surprise, I would sometimes forget a day so I would get to eat two pieces at once...sometimes I would anxiously skip ahead, ignoring the consequences of sacrificing future rewards. 

Anticipation. Preparation.
Treats. Surprises. Joy.
 Celebration. 

This was my idea of advent for most of my life.

Then  I found out Jesus had something to do with it....


... and that's still my idea of advent!

{Only better... because Jesus' advent season is a whole week longer.}

Four whole weeks of anticipation, preparation, treats, surprises, joy, celebration!

ad·vent/ˈadˌvent/
noun

            
  1. The arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.
  2. The first season of the church year, leading up to Christmas and including the four preceding Sundays.


"It is that hope, however faint at times, that God, however distant He sometimes seems, brings to the world the anticipation of a King who will rule with truth and justice and righteousness over His people and in His creation. It is that hope that once anticipated, and now anticipates anew, the reign of an Anointed One, a Messiah, who will bring peace and justice and righteousness to the world."


It's a season of celebration, reflection, and rejoicing but also a time of preparing our hearts so that we may be pleasing in God's sight on the day of his coming. 

Well, shoot...28 days to "prepare" my heart for celebrating Christmas is plenty if you ask me...
I mean, how much time do I really need in order to be able to sing all the songs, pray the prayers, and reflect on the "reason for the season"? 

But then... I think of all we still need to do until then! 

Gifts! Wrapping! Shipping! Picking! Buying!
 Making! Baking! Crafting! Hosting! Visiting! 
Shopping! Cooking! Sending! Giving! ...Getting...?

hmm...28 days (or 24, now) doesn't seem so long now does it?
::gulp::
...Is it warm in here??...

If we are caught up in the lies that we don't have enough time or money to properly prepare for Christmas something is w.r.o.n.g.

our perspective is off. 

"We live in a world in which bigger and better define our expectations for much of life. We have become so enamored by super size, super stars, and high definition that we tend to view life through a lens that so magnifies what we expect out of the world that we tend not to see potential in small things. But as the prophet Zechariah reminds us (Zech 4:10), we should not "despise the day of small things," because God does some of his best work with small beginnings and impossible situations."
Dennis Bratcher, The Season of Advent


So how can we do it differently?
how can we be advent rebels?

A little thing called Advent Conspiracy helps answer those questions:


You may be familiar with the Conspiracy efforts... they've been floating around churches and community groups for a few years now and each year they put together a new video encouraging everyone, regardless of their beliefs to pour their resources out for others in need... instead of into stuff.

Now we're thinking!
...clean water...safe homes...warm clothes...
healthy kids. healthy families. healthy lifestyles....
students. employees. businesses...

p  o  t  e  n  t  i  a  l
{for world change.}

Just imagine.


This has been a topic of conversation in our home recently. 
Over the years, we've slowly made adjustments to our normal holiday routines and have tried to find creative ways of satisfying our gift-giving urges while trying to be mindful of our credit and carbon footprints. 

Last year's strategy was not only fun, but also practical...as we were hosting our first Colorado Christmas for my out-of-state parents and brother, and were shipping gifts to Dan's family in California...
We only bought things that could fit in each other's stockings and we had one rule: whatever we gave had to be perishable. 
dun dun dun.
Perishable... anything we could eat, use, enjoy... and be done with. 
Creative indeed but It ended up being super fun!

(my mom brought our childhood stockings in her suitcase... too bad they're so small, ha!)

we picked out a ton of local and Colorado-made products that we knew our families couldn't get anywhere else: honey, soap, sauces, salsa, seasonings, lotion, candles, beer, wine...etc.
and spent more time cooking and talking, playing football and board games, and just being together on Christmas without the distractions of all of the extra stuff...

Yet we still had everything and more that we could have ever wanted and needed. 

family...food...fun... ya know, the simple things...

things that millions of people around the world will not have on Christmas

unless... we choose to do something about it.

What if each day of this advent season just one person chose to do one thing for one person somewhere in the world... and that person did one thing... and that person...

I don't know what that looks like for everyone... I know we all have different resources or opportunities... 
but check out the competition:


How could we possibly compare to Jesus?
What could we possibly give that would be a reflection of Him?
What could we possibly do that would be worthy in His sight?

...start small...

"It never ceases to amaze me that God often begins with small things and inadequate people.  It certainly seems that God could have chosen "bigger" things and "better" people to do His work in the world. Yet if God can use them, and reveal Himself through them in such marvelous ways, it means that He might be able to use me, inadequate, and unwise, and too often lacking in faith that I am. And it means that I need to be careful that I do not in my own self-righteousness put limits on what God can do with the smallest things, the most unlikely of people, in the most hopeless of circumstances. I think that is part of the wonder of the Advent Season."


What if every day... for just 24 days... we each did something small:

gave or gave up one thing to one person.

make the neighbors cookies...
call a long-lost friend or relative...
pay for the person's order behind you at the drive through...
volunteer at a local charity...
help a family in need provide for their children...

::gulp::
this means I'm there with you.
We can do this!

Here's to a season of 

pure:
Anticipation. Preparation.
Treats. Surprises. Joy.
 Celebration. 


amen.







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