Advent: Hope

6387675535_8b334473b4_b

The Candle of Hope

Come surely, Lord Jesus, as dawn follows night,our hearts long to greet you, as roses, the light.
Salvation, draw near us, our vision engage.
One candle is lit for the hope of the age.


Mary Anne Parrott, 1988, © 1995 Chalice Press
(from Chalice Hymnal, no. 128). All Rights Reserved.
Photo Credit: “010” by Joe O’Meara via Flickr. Used Under the Creative Commons 2.0 License.
Advertisements

Advent 2014

11267953124_8b7ed395f6_z

Advent is here.
Advent is the time in the church calendar when we wait for the coming of the Christ child. It is marked by the observation of the four Sundays prior to Christmas Day. Each Sunday of Advent the church observed a different theme of this journey: hope, peace, love and joy. Candles are lit as the light of the world (Christ) is drawing closer to us.
During this time we are called not to run to the manger but to wait… that’s right…. wait… for Christmas.

Waiting can be difficult in our ultra high paced society. We do not like long lines, emails or voice messages. Waiting for so called ‘fast food’ can send our blood to boil. What do you mean I have to wait? Well how long will it be… I expect to have my burger or chicken or whatever ready and at the appropriate temperatures when I cross the threshold of the door!
We want to get straight to the point as quickly as possible. This is why Twitter is so popular; Twitter forces you to construct your thoughts in 140 characters or less. Tell me what you want and move on.

We are a society on the move and for many of us we are practically sprinting. We cannot stop, we cannot slow down and we need to get more done today so we can repeat the dizzying process tomorrow.
Sure we take time to slow down but usually its because our bodies give out on us or we are “strongly encouraged” by our loved ones to relax and take some time for ourselves.

There is something freeing in slowing down. We are able to take in all that is around us and see how God is moving in our lives in ways that we would have looked right over had we not taken a moment to be reflective.

How are we using this time of Advent to prepare and to wait? Are we rushing for store to store buying mountains of gifts, trying to equate our love for someone by how big the price tag is?

How are we using this time of Advent to wait and to be reflective about what the coming of the Christ child means not only for the world or for the church but for us as followers of Christ? Don’t we want Christmas to be something more than pretty lights, too much food, elf on the shelf and Santa? Cant this time of Advent propel us into a deeper sense of the Divine around us and with us?

These are the thoughts that we take with us during this during to the manger… we aren’t there let but we know where we are going.

Below is a video that will explain Advent in about 2 minutes.  I hope and pray that this Advent is not filled with stress but with hope and expectation of God coming to Earth as a baby.

There are several devotional books available online to further your Advent experience.

 

May you encounter Christ’s hope, peace, love and joy this Advent season.

In Christ,

 

Rev. Evan

 


Photo Credit: “Advent candles” by Markus Grossalber via Flickr. Used under the Creative Commons License 2.0.

EDIT: 12/3/14– grammar and additions

Conspiracy!

Advent Conspiracy

Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday have all come and gone; whether we like it or not the “holiday season” is upon us.  For many of us the holidays are filled with shopping, lights, trees and parties.  It is a busy and often cheerful time of the year.  For others it is a stress inducing, budget stretching and even frantic time of the year. Why is it when we get through with Christmas we are more thankful that its over than it actually happened?  Have we replaced the notion of Christmas with another excuse to spend money to show our love to others? For the past few years my family and I have participated in a conspiracy. What if we looked at Christmas in a new way? What if we looked past the stores, the shopping, the mountains of gifts and looked at how Christmas can change the world?

Americans spend $450 Billion on Christmas EVERY YEAR… let that sink in for a minute.  $450 BILLION DOLLARS EVERY YEAR for Christmas.  Now, did you know it would only take $20 Billion to ensure that all people in the world could have access to clean drinking water?  Something seems a bit incongruent here. This is where the Conspiracy comes in. (Everyone loves a good conspiracy right?) The Advent Conspiracy is a different way of looking at Christmas and the in-breaking of God into the world. Advent Conspiracy (or AC) is based on four primary tenets:

Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More and Love All.

The focus of Advent Conspiracy is centered around the notion on how Christmas can change the world.  The very first Christmas 2000+ years ago was radical and counter-cultural   The idea of a God (of any religion) coming to earth to dwell, live, serve and teach was something that never entered into people’s minds.  However, because of this indwelling of God, we now put ourselves on trajectory to be in communion with God for all times. The creators of this movement sum it up well when they write:

“The time of year when worshiping Jesus should be the easiest is often the hardest.  The invitation to  join the Advent Conspiracy is a call to remain in the gospel of Jesus and worship him—no matter how strongly the cultural demands of Christ pull at us.  The transformation initiated by Jesus I no different today than it was the day he was born—the source of joy, peace, and hope hasn’t changed.” (Rick McKinley, Chris Seay, and Greg Holder, Advent Conspiracy: Can Christmas Still Change the World? (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2009), page 34.)

AC doesn’t advocate not giving gifts, but they do advocate giving meaningful and thoughtful gifts.  Does Uncle Steve really need another tie?  Instead of rushing through the aisles or online if we took some time and gave thoughtful gifts, then the gift would equated with love, not with the notion of “the heftier the price tag the more I love you.” Why go into debt to show that you love someone? One of the most memorable and meaningful gifts I was given was a group of 3 x 5 note cards held together by a simple ring.  My wife’s aunt, uncle, niece and nephews had all taken the time to write things that they loved about me.  It wasn’t the newest piece of technology, it wasn’t my favorite movie; it was a paper note cards and a metal ring.  It meant so much because they took the time to think about me instead of buying something just to buy something.  

That’s the power of the Advent Conspiracy.

AC gets back to the heart of the Christmas story, not the flashy gifts of the Magi but the humility of Christ and the love poured out by God to all of humanity. Imagine what we could do if we chose this Christmas to share our love in ways that can not be wrapped and placed under a tree.  What if we took some of the money that we would have spent on each other and gave it to people who were in need– then Christmas could change the world. Advent Conspiracy allows us to think about how we celebrate Christmas in a new and exciting way.

Below is a video from AC and some of the organizations that you could give gifts through this Christmas. Let’s make this Christmas one to remember!
Join the conspiracy!

In Christ,

Rev. Evan


[vimeo 47546099] [vimeo 50320595] iPhone App Video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBZIWZWomYc Organizations That You Can Support During The Conspiracy!

Join The Conspiracy!

Think about Christmas differently this year! Turn your Christmas upside down!