Monday, November 12, 2007

The Advent Conspiracy

I wanted to take a break today from Acts in order to promote something that has become very close to my heart. Those who know me know that I can be very cynical when it comes to the ways of the world, almost to the point of bitterness. This is especially true when it comes to the holiday of Christmas, which each year seems to depart further and further from its true roots all for the sake of not offending someone.

What I do believe in though is making a difference, and that is why I am here today. With the Christmas season nearly upon us my church here in Indianapolis has decided to take up a challenge that, if successful, could have world-altering after effects. We are calling it The Advent Conspiracy, and in effect it is simply a group of twenty and thirty-year olds sacrificing part of our own Christmas budgets in order to make a positive difference in the lives of thousands. As the message says, we are wanting to worship Christ through compassion, not consumption. This is not a crusade against the traditional Christmas asking you to give up everything entirely in order to support a cause. This is merely recognizing that we are blessed and giving part of that blessing back as the true spirit of Christmas. It is inspired by the story of Christmas in Matthew 2 where it is announced that Christ came to earth in order to change things dramatically. His coming was part of a conspiracy that had those in charge at the time (specifically Herod) shaking in fear at what was to come. We are not seeking fear, but we are seeking change from the typical consumption of the Christmas season.

The challenge is quite simple. We have an average congregation of 200 people. Our leadership estimated that if 200 people could give $200 at Christmas, roughly 25% of what the average person spends on Christmas, we could do something dramatic. Since there are those who like to think big though, we got another idea on top of it. What if each person of those 200 could inspire ten more people to give the same $200? That's 2000 giving $200, and is just a mind-blowing figure that only the Lord can truly accomplish.

We have four tiers of giving, and they can be seen on the website mentioned above. Each tier will positively affect the lives of thousands of individuals that would otherwise not be affected without this challenge. Instead of saying you got this and that for Christmas, you can say that you got together with some friends to save a school, feed and help the homeless of Indianapolis, provide clean water for people in Rwanda who would otherwise die without it, and help stop such despicable acts such as forced prostitution and sex-trafficking.

I don't know about you, but this certainly makes my "want" of a Playstation 3 a little less important.

It is also a very easy challenge to complete. If accepted, one needs only agree to donate $25 a week over the next eight weeks of the advent season in order to fulfill the obligation. The $200 limit is just a goal, as one can always give more and even if you give less whatever is given will be greatly appreciated. Personally I am humbled that God has prepared my wife and I through an up and down year financially to give our portion merely from extra funds I would earn from something I love doing. By covering a mere six basketball games this upcoming season, money I would normally just store away for a rainy day, we can commit ourselves to this cause.

I am also humbled that God has put me in a position through this blog, my other blog, and the connections I have to inspire others. As I have said many times throughout the course of writing here, I don't know why I am supposed to do it, I am merely supposed to write this and let God work in people's hearts. I cannot make people take up this challenge, but I can put it out there and let God work on people's hearts. This is how I choose to make a difference this Christmas season.

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