Worship Fully during Advent

Hark! The herald angels say, “the Riverwood News & Notesis here today!” (Dec 19, 2019)

Worship Fully

For the month of December, we are doing a series here in the News & Notes on three of the four tenets of Advent Conspiracy. We have looked at these four tenets in the past, but because of the cultural pressure around us, it is worth us considering them again. If you are unfamiliar with Advent Conspiracy, head to their site and read the blog post called “Advent Conspiracy 101.”  And even if you are thoroughly familiar with all four tenets of Advent Conspiracy, I strongly encourage you to read today’s email so you can be reminded of how to make the most of this Christmas season.

In Christ,

Erin


Worship Fully
from the Advent Conspiracy team

For many of us, the time of year when focusing on Christ should be the easiest, is often the hardest. Our calendars are full of activities, the to-do lists are getting longer, the stores are getting busier, and an overwhelming stress has creeped into our hearts.

So how do we get back to the heart of the Christmas narrative?

For starters, worship. We see the tenet of Worship Fully as being the cornerstone tenet. We believe that when our hearts are oriented towards Christ, the rest of the tenets will fall into place. The way we spend, give, and love will radically change when it comes from a place of true worship.

Each year Advent brings another opportunity to worship the miracle of the Incarnation when God revealed himself to people in a new way. If you read the Christmas narrative, nearly every character who encountered the infant King had the same response: worship.

Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today, in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the LORD.
Luke 2:10-11

Nativity SceneExcitement, anticipation, hope—each of these emotions swell around the object of our dearest affection. The reality is that we spend our time and energy on what matters most to us. Notice what you’re spending your time and energy on. Is it drawing you closer to God or is it distracting you from something else?

Here’s a tough question: Does the way we spend our time, money, and energy testify that we worship God incarnate?  Sit with that today.  Ask God to open your eyes and heart to the truth.

Some activities to help you Worship Fully:

  • Invite a friend over and see how they’re doing. Listen well.
  • Have your kids read the Christmas story while setting up the nativity.
  • For one night, unplug from all technology and social media. In a world full of noise, be intentional about quiet time.
  • Participate in the daily Advent devotionals or listen to the audio version of the Bible.
  • Turn the radio off in the car and spend 10 minutes thanking God for the ways He has blessed you.
  • Listen to the Advent Conspiracy playlist on Spotify or a favorite Christ-centered Christmas album. Let the lyrics settle into your heart.

Originally published at https://adventconspiracy.org/worship-fully/

Give More this Christmas

Give More (Kids holding peace signs))

Give More

For the month of December, we are doing a series here in the News & Notes on three of the four tenets of Advent Conspiracy. We have looked at these four tenets in the past, but because of the cultural pressure around us, it is worth us considering them again. If you are unfamiliar with Advent Conspiracy, head to their site and read the blog post called “Advent Conspiracy 101.”  And even if you are thoroughly familiar with all four tenets of Advent Conspiracy, I strongly encourage you to read today’s email so you can be reminded of how to make the most of this Christmas season.

In Christ,

Erin

 


Give More
from the Advent Conspiracy team

We’ve talked about rebelling against consumerism by spending less but now we’re encouraging you to give more…Is that a contradiction? Nope! Giving more isn’t about giving more toys, more gadgets, more clothes, more gift cards, more stuff.

God is calling us to give more intentionally and relationally. That means giving more of our time, our energy, our memories, our talents, our presence. It’s both. Spend less money and give more of yourself to the ones you love.

smiling kidsWe believe the best gifts celebrate a relationship. Think back on the most meaningful gift you’ve ever received. Chances are that there is a story and a relationship that was connected to that gift. Now try and remember all of the gifts you were given last year…For most of us that’s hard to do.

It sounds obvious, yet we seem to have drifted away from this liberating, straightforward truth: The Father gave His one and only Son. God’s answer for the world’s problems has never been material things. God did not give us more stuff – even good stuff like work, food, or health. He gave us Himself. The most priceless and personal gift of all!

The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. – John 1:14

Relational giving means that we think about the other person – who they are and what they care about. We focus more on giving our undivided presence and less on a pile of presents under the tree. This takes time and effort on our part. These kinds of gifts often require planning, but you’ll hardly be able to wait until Christmas to give such a gift!

When we give relationally during the Advent season, this is what we remember: it’s an opportunity to worship as we remind each other of the gift that was given for our sake. If we can resist the trap of giving easy gifts, and reject the assumption that giving expensive gifts is the best way to express love, something else might begin to happen. Our kids, family, neighbors, and coworkers will watch us celebrate Christmas differently, and through our actions they will hear the good news of the Gospel.

Some ideas to help you Give More:

  • Check out our list of relational gift ideas.
  • If you’re overwhelmed, start small. Choose one person on your list to give a relational gift to.
  • On Christmas morning, turn off your cell phone. Take a couple hours to be fully present with your family and focus on the people God has put in your life.
  • Invest in experiences you can share. Sign up for dance lessons, go camping, plan a vacation, take cooking classes.
  • Pass down memories. Make a recipe book or photo album to give to your family.
  • Get a blank journal and write notes and prayers to your kids.
  • Give a copy of your favorite book to a friend and then meet up for coffee and discuss it. Then switch and read their favorite book.
  • Give someone a gift that relieves a burden: babysitting money, help out with yard work, make a meal.
  • Give the gift of hospitality. Invite a new family over for dinner and games.
  • Do an activity with your kids – puzzles, jewelry making, baking, hiking, fishing, sports. Be present.

Originally published at https://adventconspiracy.org/give-more/

Spend Less this Advent Season

Spend Less

For the month of December, we will be doing a series here in the News & Notes on three of the four tenets of Advent Conspiracy. We have looked at these four tenets in the past, but because of the cultural pressure around us, it is worth us considering again. So here is what we are going to do:

Each of the next three “Notes” will be a blog post from the Advent Conspiracy blog looking at one of the tenets. In case you aren’t quite familiar with Advent Conspiracy, here is a paragraph from their blog post called “Advent Conspiracy 101” that will quickly orientate you to their hope for Jesus-followers:

“We worship fully because Christmas is about Jesus. If we forget this foundational truth, everything else falls apart. Let our actions and our words come from a place of worship. We spend less because we know mindless consumption is not the way to celebrate our Savior. By spending a little less on ourselves we are able to joyfully give to others in need. We give more of ourselves because this is the way of Jesus. God gave us his Son and now it is our turn to reflect that same selflessness to the world. We share our time, talents, and presence with the people we love. We love all because we have been loved first. We believe that the poor and hurting of our world can be reached by God through the way we choose to celebrate Christmas.”

Even if you are thoroughly familiar with all four tenets of Advent Conspiracy, I strongly encourage you to read the next three emails so they can help you make the most of your Christmas season.

In Christ,

Erin signature
Erin


Spend Less
from the Advent Conspiracy team

Spend less is an ambiguous goal. But what does it mean? Spend less than last year? Spend less than my neighbor? The truth is there is no formula. The challenge of this tenet is to be willing to ask more questions and then be open to hearing what God says in return.

Is this something I want or something I need?

Why do I want to buy this?

What kind of company am I supporting if I purchase this product?

Can I afford to spend this amount?

How many presents do we actually need? 

What did we do with the presents from last year?

You see, spending less requires us to plan. Instead of mindlessly shopping online and ordering more than we know what to do with, we take the time to think about each purchase. We strive to thoughtfully evaluate what we support with our spending, and we allow our spending to support products, people, and causes worthy of being supported. By spending a little less on ourselves we are able to more joyfully give to others in need.

It is not enough to say no to the way Christmas is celebrated by many; we need to say yes to a different way of celebrating.

Christmas PresentIt’s important to remember that when we choose to spend less on Christmas presents, it doesn’t mean  we love our friends and family any less. In fact, for many of us, we’ve found that the creative, intentional gifts we give showcase our love – and perhaps God’s – more clearly than ever before.

More than just an invitation to say no to overspending, this is an invitation to a new way of celebrating. This year start a new tradition of spending compassionately and responsibly.

Some ideas to help you Spend Less this Christmas:

  • Make a Christmas budget and then stick to it. Don’t compare yourself to others, pray and do what is best for your family.
  • Research companies that are Fair Trade.
  • Pray for the people on your Christmas list before purchasing anything. Make spending a conscious decision that engages your heart.
  • It’s not just about the presents. Notice how much you’re spending on other Christmas activities (going out to eat, new outfits, wrapping paper, decorations, etc.). Find one area where you can cut back this year.
  • Write down five things for which you’re thankful. Take inventory of how blessed you already are.
  • Set a spending limit as a family. Let everyone have the same amount to spend on each other. You’ll be surprised at how creative your kids will get!
  • Donate old and unused clothes, toys, and books to a local organization. Notice how much stuff you actually don’t use or need.

Originally published at https://adventconspiracy.org/spend-less/

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