Advent Conspiracy At CityEdge
Every Christmas $450,000,000,000 are spent in the United States alone. And every year it seems that we get more stressed and depressed during the holiday season. Is this really what Christmas is about? Spending lots of money and getting depressed? Or is there a different story? A better story?
What was the first Christmas story about? It is a rescue story of a God who so desperately loves his people that he enters in, not as a supreme ruler, but as a vulnerable baby in a manger. The first Christmas is the story of Emmanuel: “God with us.” A God who loves us so much that he enters into our pain and saves us from darkness. By doing this he brings us peace and hope.
John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son...”
What if this Christmas we conspire, just a little, against the empire of consumerism and do what Jesus did. Enter into the lives of our family and friends to bear their pain and bring them hope.
At CityEdge, the Church I lead, we decided to worship fully this Christmas by spending less, giving more, and loving all. We call this the Advent Conspiracy. We are asking our church to spend less this Christmas so they can give more to people who really need it. By doing this we believe we are guarding our hearts from the consumerism that can rob us of giving, and be generous to the people who really need it.
Notice I didn’t say we asked people to not spend. Just spend less. No one liked the Grinch. No one wants their mom or dad to be Ebenezer Scrooge. Instead we ask people to tone it down a bit and scale back. This way they can have a little bit of extra money to give to something that helps alleviate the kind of suffering that breaks the heart of God-- like the water crisis. There are 1 billion people without clean water. To lead the way on giving more and loving all, we are giving 100% of our regular offering on December 18th to a nonprofit called Charity Water.
This year instead of buying fruitcake, a shake weight, or various gift cards that their loved ones will forget about in a week, we are encouraging people to make gifts and memories. Chances are if you ask your grandpa, grandma, mom, or dad what their favorite Christmas gifts are, you will find it was something sentimental that you made for them. Some keepsake or silly ornament that you made in grade school. Not the newest gadget or gizmo. We are challenging people to actually put some thought into their gifts. For example, my wife and I made a photobook of all of our Christmases growing up for our parents last year. When opening it my mom bawled like a baby. Another thing our family does to make memories is taking all of our siblings and their spouses out ice skating. Laughs are had and memories are made. I wouldn’t change it for the world. Both of these help us give relationally and not buy into the consumer Christmas.
Another decision we made this year at CityEdge is to cancel our worship gathering on Christmas Morning. Instead we want our church and you to spend time relationally, worshipping God with your family and serving your neighbors. We have created an online Christmas Worship Experience that you can watch from the comfort of your own couch. It will be a 15-20 minute online worship gathering that will continuously be on loop for you, your friends, and your family to worship to. There will be an interactive chat and social network functionality built in to share with your friends. It’s going to be awesome!
Last Sunday at our worship gathering, we did something that dropped the jaws of almost everyone there. Since we saved some money from not renting Garfield Middle School on Christmas Day, we gave everyone at our gathering $20 cash in an envelope. We asked them to give it to someone who needs it this Christmas. We encouraged them to enter into other people’s stories, just like Jesus entered into ours. To bear each other’s pain and bring joy.
Don’t you think it is time for a revolution against the empire of consumerism? To conspire against the empty Christmases we’ve experienced in the past and to engage in one that is meaningful? One that makes a difference in the lives of our friends and families? One where we bear the struggles, and bring peace and joy like Jesus would? Let’s get creative this Christmas and make it meaningful!
Learn more about CityEdge Christian Church and Advent Conspiracy at cityedge.org/adventconspiracy. And join us online on Christmas Day by going to www.cityedge.org/online. Join the conspiracy!
Kevin Rush is Lead Planter and Minister of CityEdge Christian Church that gathers in Garfield Middle School in Lakewood, OH every Sunday at 10:30am. Kevin is madly in love with his beautiful bride, Sondra, and their three daughters; Selah, Aliyah, and Mylah. He enjoys music, art, technology, story-telling, and the city of Lakewood.