If you are asking, "What is Advent Conspiracy?" Well, it's a book, a movement, and a way of life. Chris Seay wrote a small book entitled Advent Conspiracy that has sparked believers to rethink the materialism at Christmas. Shawn spent several weeks walking through many of these principles with our congregation. You can find these principles and more information online at www.adventconspiracy.org.
We have long felt that we were missing something valuable in Christmas. The year that our children cried because they were tired of opening gifts sort of clued us in that we were missing the point. We love to shower our children with gifts to demonstrate our love, but then in a matter of weeks or months we are hauling off their discarded stuff to Goodwill. Every year we experience great stress attempting to find the perfect gifts for people who don't need or want any more stuff. Then there are the gifts that we buy out of obligation - for people we don't even really like. And then there are the bills - the massive piles of bills from going overboard with money we didn't really have.
So this year, Christmas changed at our house. We only bought gifts for our immediate family. In an effort to be responsible to our budget, and to prevent our dollars supporting slavery, we bought most of our stuff used this year. My daughters and I all received $10 bikes. Katie received a $25 dollhouse that retailed for $200, Grace a $500 drumset for $150, and James a mountain bike for $85. We also bought fair trade items online at www.tradeasone.com. Many of our purchases were probably not fair trade, but at least it is improving.
For Shawn's family, we decided to give the gift of relationship. We all committed to spending a week together this summer on vacation. We will coordinate our time off in such a way that we can stop our busy lives and connect. Looking at the relational aspect of Christmas also made me rethink our holiday. We made the effort this year to see all our parents. It was a long trip, all the way across and around Arkansas, but definitely very rewarding to visit my family.
This last Sunday, we spent time telling our stories. The stories of how God showed up this Christmas. We heard from families about serving the homeless, helping others, and astonishing accounts of blessing. The power of the stories of our people was incredible. I loved getting to hear how God had worked in others. However, I am more excited to see how God continues to work over the next few weeks and months as we continue to rethink how we live. To worship freely, give more, and love fully.