Last year four churches participated in what they called The Advent Conspiracy. It came out of a few pastors sitting around talking about how much they hate being pastors at Christmas.
You would think that a season that’s all about one of the greatest theological truths – that God became flesh in what is called the incarnation – means that Christmas would be a great time to pastor. But the pastors had a sense of competing with stress, thoughts about the mall, what people hadn’t bought yet, and how much debt they’re going into for this great truth called the incarnation.
There’s a stream of passion, consumerism and chaos that is contradictory to the message of the Gospels. Rick McKinley, one of the pastors in the group, observes, “There is a point where you want to just throw up your hands and say, ‘Let’s quit talking about Christmas from the Bible. Let’s just talk about spend more. Let’s cancel church for the Christmas season.’ That probably would be easier for people. Then you realize that’s stupid.”
The pastors began to conspire together to enter the story of Christmas: not just teach about it and sing about it, but enter it. When Christ came to earth, he came as King. It threatened the king at the time and his empire. Although Christ comes in weakness, there is a true threat in this baby. He is subversive. He is a threat to the kingdoms and the powers that be in this world. When we worship at Christmas, we often bless the kingdom, and buy into consumerism and chaos. This seems contradictory to the Christmas story.
Last Christmas, four churches decided to try to enter the Christmas story by resisting consumerism, giving relationally, and redistributing what we have because God loves all. As a result of all of this, they were able to worship more. As well, they gave away close to half a million dollars. This year, over a thousand churches are taking part.
I realize it’s late, but if you haven’t checked out The Advent Conspiracy, do yourself a favor and spend some time doing so. They have a great website. Imago Dei, a church in Portland, also has a podcast of a recent service which introduced the Conspiracy, including interviews with someone who participated in last year’s Conspiracy, a representative of Living Water International, and Morgan Spurlock, writer and director of Super Size Me and producer of the new film What Would Jesus Buy?
Check it out and spread the word. The Advent Conspiracy is changing lives around the world by providing clean water to those who don’t have any, but it’s also changing the lives of North Americans who are learning to enter the Christmas story and celebrate Christmas differently.