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!

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Requiem of A Holiday

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Tomorrow, millions of people will gather across this great nation to celebrate Thanksgiving: the time in our calendar where we pause to give thanks for the year that has past, for family, loved ones, new additions and to remember those that have gone on before us.  We share stories, we laugh, we cry…and for many of us we eat too much.  For centuries, families have gathered together to pause and to say thanks, even if it is just for one day.

This year, however, I am going to make a bold statement: I am declaring that Thanksgiving to some is obsolete, if not dead.  Why such the bold statement?  It seems that since the day after Halloween, the focus has been on lights, bows, trees, candy canes, Santa and the Christmas story.   In a mad dash to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and in the midst of people complaining about the store employee not saying “Merry Christmas” we have forgotten to stop and be thankful.

We all learned the story in grade school.  Pilgrims came to this land on a ship called the Mayflower.  They settled the land and after a difficult time with the land and the weather, they met some Native Americans.  They helped work the land, grow crops and around harvest time they celebrated together with a grand feast, the first Thanksgiving.  It was in this same spirit that the tradition has continued for so long.

For some, Thanksgiving has turned into a stopping point on the road to Christmas shopping and excess.   It seems that every year the start date for when “Black Friday” sales begin is getting earlier and earlier.  Some stores are opening on Thanksgiving Day to entice people to come and buy their holiday gifts at low, low prices.

On one hand, I understand their reasoning of trying to bolster the bottom line – especially in light of the past few years decline in the economy.  But why has the day when people are supposed to be thankful for what they have been given turned into just another Thursday?  Can we not give thanks for more than just a few hours one Thursday in November before making a mad dash to buy more and more things?  What about the employees of these stores?   Not every employee of a company can demand that they take the day off.  What about their traditions?  What about their family time?  How will they give thanks?

While this might sound like I am being cynical, please hear me out: I am not.  Thanksgiving is more than about turkey, stuffing and family; it is about the recognition that for most people, by virtue of living in the United States, we live a life of luxury, comfort and even excess.  We should be thankful for what we have –  not thankful that we have things but pine away for that flat screen for $100 at Wal-Mart.

I am not anti-gift giving, or even anti-captialism, but I am anti-acquisition of things for acquisition’s sake.  Is forgoing the sales on Thanksgiving really going to put a damper on one’s holiday shopping?  It’s puzzling to think that in one breath we can go around the table and say one thing we are thankful for, while in the back of our mind we are hoping that Aunt Shirley won’t take too long because we have to get to the store by 6pm if we are going to purchase one of those TVs or a Playstation 4 or an iPad Mini.

As a Christian, I find the words of Jesus are all the more true this time of year: “Stop collecting treasures for your own benefit on earth, where moth and rust eat them and where thieves break in and steal them. Instead, collect treasures for yourselves in heaven, where moth and rust don’t eat them and where thieves don’t break in and steal them. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21, Common English Bible).  Our heart this time of year should be centered around thanks for the beauty of this earth, the world that we find ourselves in and even extending Christ’s love of wholeness and reconciliation to those who go without most of the year.

Thanksgiving should be a reminder to us all that despite the things we are envious we don’t have, we have a lot, more than most in the entire world.  This Thanksgiving let’s not lose sight of that fact.  Things can wait, sales come and go.  What’s more important– saving a few bucks or making memories with friends and family?  Give me the memories all day long– you can keep your sales, long lines and fights over the last Barbie Dream House.

Happy Thanksgiving!

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

Interview with Ben Fort of EmergingDisciple.com

Today I did a special interview… it was with my Brother in Law, Ben Fort.

He recently started a website called EmergingDisciple.com  which will serve as the canvas to which his spiritual journey will be played out.  I look forward to seeing how God uses his renewed faith.  You never know more videos might be coming your way.  Be sure to check it out!

Video Link

In Christ,

Rev. Evan


A 9-11 Reflection: 12 Years Later

English: Tribute in Light, September 11, 2010.

English: Tribute in Light, September 11, 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On various social media platforms people are recalling where they were or how they found out about the events that took place on September 11, 2001.

It’s hard to imagine that in 2001 many things that we use everyday had not been invented yet– items like Facebook (2004), YouTube (2005),Twitter (2006), the iPhone (2007), even this blogging platform wasn’t released until 2003.

A lot has changed in the last 12 years some for good and others not so much.

As I reflect on this day that is etched into so many people’s minds I am instantly transported to the moment when I heard the grave news.  The guy living across the hall from me in college stopped me on my way to chemistry and told me the news. I couldn’t believe what was happening.

Although 12 years have passed, for many that day is still as fresh at is was in 2001.  The world has gotten a lot smaller and in some cases more harsh.  What happened 12 years was a national tragedy, one that our nation has taken the time to remember each year.   We recall the names of those who died, we have moments of silence to honor them and we grieve all over again.

In my ministry in health care I meet people who have recently lost a love one.  At times they will say something “I know that I need to get over it.”  I stop them and I tell them that its ok if they never “get over it” and in all actuality they will never “get over it.”  The goal is not getting over a tragedy is goal is learning to deal with the pain, the hurt, the grief and the loss.  Too often we think that we should sprint to the acceptance phase of the stages of grief; we as a society don’t do well with grief, for some reason we get uncomfortable.

May we remember those who died this day; those on the planes and those trying to rescue the people trapped in the Trade Centers- not just on the anniversary.

May we never forget.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan



EDIT: formatting

Grace and Welcome to All

Christian College of Georgia is affiliated wit...

Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am a minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)–it’s OK… many people have never heard of it, too.

I could bore you with the history of the Disciples of Christ but in a nut shell it is the oldest Christian denomination founded on American soil and follows a few basic principles.

  • Ministry of All Believers
  • Open Communion to all who believe in Christ regardless of membership or affiliation
  • Freedom of Belief
  • Baptism by Immersion (but if you were sprinkled… that’s cool too)
  • Local Church Autonomy

You can read more about the Disciples by clicking here and watch a nice video by clicking here.

Every two years the denomination gets together for a conference of sorts called the General Assembly. It is a time of worship, reflection, sharing, learning and discussion. Every year ministries and groups with in the denomination go through a process of proposing resolutions before the Assembly. There is a lengthy process of discernment before the general board sets the agenda. In years past things have been debated ranging from immigration reform to moral injury study to how the church understands itself in the 21st century and everything in between.

This year one resolution in particular is generating a lot of buzz. It’s resolution 1327. You can read it in full here.

In a nutshell the resolution calls upon the church to be a place of grace and welcome to all people understanding that all our welcomed at the table of God and thus that radical grace is extended to all.

Some people believe that this resolution is over reaching with regards to how the church is structured. If the church is autonomous from the national church then who a church welcomes or not welcomes is up to them.  Some believe that it is a good resolution but fails to address certain issues that have been plaguing the DOC for many year.

But I think it goes deeper than that.

I believe that this resolution calls upon the church to be the church. In the church we have put up artificial barriers. We decide who is in and who is out, who has the power and who is a by standard. The church needs to step up to the plate and open its doors to all people from every walk of life and even differing sexual orientation. If the church is to have any relevance in the 21st century and beyond then it has to stop judging people first and then giving them a relationship. It works the other way around. People (especially those disenfranchised with the church) are not looking for a place for people think they are better than everyone else in the world all under the guise of religion. No, people are looking for something greater than themselves and for a community that does more than pay lip service to how all people “have fallen short of the Glory of God.”

After people are welcomed despite their faults (or perceived faults) then and only then can a congregation have conversations about sin, morality, interpretation and the authority of scripture or whatever. It’s about relationships first not judgment. Christ welcomed people from all walks of life and even had the audacity to call a Samaritan good (a big non-no in his time).

How can grace and welcome ever be a bad thing? In my opinion never.

Watch the video below; I believe it articulates the intent of the resolution well.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan