It’s the season to knock out all your Christmas shopping as the countdown to Christmas is officially on.
Whether you’re more of a crowd-fighting Black Friday Christmas shopper or a Cyber Monday shopper sitting on my couch, one thing’s for sure – we love a bargain.
A SlickDeals survey found that one in five Americans would only eat oatmeal for two weeks in a row if that meant they could get a new flat-screen TV for half the price. And for the same deal, nearly one in 10 Americans would suffer from a cold for a year. And for free TV, one in 10 Americans said they would gladly throw themselves on a desert island, fending for themselves for a week, while another in 10 would go under house arrest for a year.
Just for free TV.
But it’s Christmas, isn’t it? Things, things and more things.
Where is it?
Let me ask you a question: If you consider yourself to be a follower of Christ, does the way you spend time, money and energy at Christmas reflect honoring Jesus in Xmas ? The centrality of Jesus at Christmas?
Perhaps it is time to present the “Advent Conspiracy,” which conspires against the way our culture has taken precedence over Christmas. And how we can and must take it back.
Neither the title nor the idea behind it is original to me. Over a decade ago a team of people got together and decided to take this under this banner. They were convinced that there had to be a better, fuller, richer way of celebrating the joy of Christmas history that not only protected our hearts – and in many cases our wallets – but also offered protection and care for those in our world who are most vulnerable.
It is not a new idea at the church that I serve. Mecklenburg Community Church has been highlighting our Giving to Christ on Christmas effort for almost 30 years. An effort to give our first and best gift to Jesus on Christmas, which he said we could do by giving to the little ones and the lost through the local church of which we are a part. So we take every bit of this money and donate it to support orphanages, the homeless, those who need basic necessities such as food or clean water, those who are saved from human trafficking. humans and, of course, to reach those who are spiritually far from God with the one message that can alter the entire trajectory of their eternity.
But whatever your approach, the goal is the same: to make Christmas meaningful and put Jesus at the center.
And isn’t that what we all want and what we all really need? How many years have you missed the wonder of God’s miraculous birth with overcrowded decembers leaving you begging for more? Hyper-consumption leaves you empty?
We worship less, spend more, give less, strive for more.
It cannot be fair. It’s just wrong and it has to end. What if we made Christmas differently? Because it’s not just a matter of saying “No” to the way Christmas is celebrated culturally; it’s about saying “yes” to a whole different way of celebrating.
What would it be like if we took this Christmas and worshiped fully, spent less, gave more and loved everything? And did he do it in Jesus ‘name, for Jesus, to Jesus, and in honor and celebration of Jesus’ birthday?
This is the “Advent Conspiracy”.
Word advent means “to come,” and it has become a generic term for the weeks leading up to Christmas, awaiting the celebration of the coming of Jesus. This is why those of us who are Christians have Advent wreaths and candles and celebrate the Advent season.
So, let us all join this “Advent conspiracy” leading up to Christmas to conspire to mark this season differently. Let’s challenge ourselves, collectively, to be cultural subversives and revolutionaries, to do better than the Black Fridays and Cyber Mondays as if that’s all Christmas is.
We can get Christmas back.
And we should.
James Emery White
“Black Friday Breakdown: Average Shopper Spends Over $ 500, Likely on Clothing and Electronics” Fox news, November 12, 2018, to be read online.
Rick McKinley, Chris Seay, Greg Holder, Advent conspiracy: giving meaning to Christmas (Zondervan).
For more information on Meck’s Advent Conspiracy Weekend Series, click HERE.
About the Author
James Emery White is the founding and principal pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the assistant professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His latest book After “I believe” is now available on Amazon or at your favorite bookstore. To take advantage of a free Church & Culture blog subscription, visit ChurchAndCulture.org, where you can browse past blogs in our archives and read the latest news on church and culture from around the world. Follow Dr White on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @JamesEmeryWhite.