Sunday, November 29, 2009

Advent Conspiracy

Today is the first day of Advent! A couple of weeks ago, I published this in our church newsletter:

The Advent Conspiracy –
There’s a conspiracy afoot, and you are invited to be a part of it. There are a few facts you need to know first: like the fact that worldwide, lack of clean water kills more people every day than anything else. In third world countries, it’s not unusual for children and infants to die from diseases caused by drinking unclean water. But here’s another fact: the estimated cost to make clean water available to everyone, forever, is $13 billion. That may seem like a lot, until you consider the most shocking fact of all: that Canadians spend over $35 billion every year on Christmas.

The gifts. The wrapping paper. The shopping. The Christmas cards. The decorations. The traffic jams. The crowded stores. The credit card bills. Is this what Christ intended when he gave of himself, that very first Christmas? The Advent Conspiracy doesn’t think so. We think that Christ calls us to a higher purpose – rejecting consumerism and reflecting on how to give what really matters: ourselves. This is called giving relationally, and it can change the way you think about Christmas. It can add peace, love, and joy to your holiday season. It can create memories that will last a lifetime!

What if you skipped that toy he doesn’t need, that sweater she won’t like, and that gift certificate you feel obligated to buy, and instead, give something truly valuable – like your time? Talk, eat, sled, bike, craft, cook, read, play, create, sing, dance, build, draw, laugh, hike, write, together. You might just start a whole new Christmas tradition! Here are some more ideas on relational giving:
52 packets of gourmet hot chocolate with a personal coffee cup: So that you can share a special time together once a week.
Deck of cards and book of card game rules: This gives you an excuse to do something to hang out together.
Collage of special photos: Highlighting your favorite memories together.
Craft supplies: Geared to help you do something creative together.
Gardening gloves with a plant or flower seeds: Indicating you'll work on a garden together.
Homemade cookie mix with instructions for baking: Take turns making each other a round every couple of weeks.

We challenge you to cut your Christmas spending by 30% this year, and donate the money you save to CLWR’s clean water initiative – where, right now, it will be tripled by CIDA. There will be info available on the bulletin board, in the weekly bulletins, and in next month’s newsletter. There will also be an Advent Fair on November 29th, partially sponsored by the Advent Conspiracy, where you can learn more.

We want your help to make Christmas a life-changing event again – just like it was on that very first Christmas. Are you ready to conspire with us?


I've actually been working since June to make this a reality at our church. We decided to give any donations earned to Canadian Lutheran World Relief, where every dollar given right now is being tripled by the Canadian International Development Agency. So far, our little church has given $675 to build freshwater wells for families who need them. I'm really hoping that the month of December will at least match that, if not more.

One of the really cool things I found while hunting around for inspiring links is this Advent calendar. I got rid of the graphic, changed the focus from orphans to water, and shrunk it small enough to fit on a can - a can with a coin slot in the top. I love this calendar because not only is it a tool for collecting a bit of money, but for every day in December it makes you think about all the things you have that so many people don't have.

And ultimately, that's all I want people to do. I want people to think about whether our Christmas traditions really accomplish what we want them to - the expression of love, the sharing of joy, the experience of "peace on earth and good will towards men". I am touched by this message and excited about sharing it with others. Maybe it will touch you too.


Amberism said...

oooohhhhhhh - this is AWESOME. I'm all over this, Christmas is SUPPOSED to be about love and family and giving (for me, anyway). I'm also a huge supporter of relational giving, except I totally didn't know it had a name until you told me :).

We cut back tremedously, and honestly, I'm spending more money on my best friend's kids than my own this year - those are the only toys we're buying. And Santa is teaching my children the lesson of sharing this year too - he's bringing one (albeit fairly large, we're still spoiled) gift. And stuffing the stocking with craft supplies (read: crayons and a coloring book). The gift the kids are getting from Steve and I were, uh, made by us from thrifted material... (or in Claire's case, stuff I had lying around the house - but it's cool, I'll blog it eventually).

I love this, and think it is wonderful what you and your church is aiming to do.

I've been meaning to make an advent calendar forever, and my sister's friend made one not that long ago that in lieu of chocolate (which she couldn't afford anyway) she tucks in a note that has an activity that they do together as a family. Every day for advent they sit and have a hot cocoa, or go for a walk, or check out a local free choir performance. How amazing is that? I haven't done it because I haven't had the time to research what's going on around here over advent.

Ramble, ramble. I do ramble in your comments.

Happy Advent!

Surprised Suburban Wife said...

This is a wonderful, inspiring post...and I'm not even Christian! I so totally agree with the message though - relational giving. My in-laws are Mennonites who have never been into gifting at all, and my parents aren't North American so don't have the same consumerist insanity or Martha Stewart stress that hits far too many north american families every Christmas. It's just ridiculous and I'm so glad I'm not the only one who wants to send the right message to my daughter:)


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