Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Advent Conspiracy

This year, we have a week in between Thanksgiving and the first week of Advent. Advent is theologically and liturgically my favorite time of the year. I’m getting excited just thinking about it! This year, my Junior High Sunday School class is going to use the Advent Conspiracy curriculum. The Advent Conspiracy was begun by five Evangelical pastors who were sick of their holiday- and their faith- being hijacked by consumerism. The whole idea is to "turn Christmas upside down" by making the best (free!) things in life the focus: worshiping God, giving to others (without spending on excessive material goods), and loving everyone. Here's their promo video:

Like the video said, it can really be difficult to open our hearts to God when we're over-busy, stressed from cooking and cleaning, and generally partied out before we even get to Christmas day! I'm hoping that engaging the kids with the Advent Conspiracy will help me to be mindful even in the challenging moments. Christ's coming was actually a subversive event. No one expected God's Messiah to come as a helpless baby. In a sense, Jesus infiltrated the Jewish community he was intended to transform by being one of them right from the start, growing up among them. He resisted the moneyed and powerful Roman officials, along with their worldly values, from the beginning of his life to the end. Mary praised God for defending those who are weak and needy in the Magnificat, her prayer upon learning that she would bear the son of God:
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty. 
The Advent Conspiracy makes me feel subversive, too. Our culture- no thanks to the corporations- has commodified Christmas, making it about wish fulfillment and attaining material goods. When we remember the only God brings true contentment, and not things, we re-orient ourselves to the miracle of Jesus' incarnation. This year, I'll continue my tradition of giving to UMCOR in lieu of giving lots of expensive gifts. My wish is that all people everywhere have their needs met, and I'm doing my small part to make that happen. Whether or not I will be able to keep the meaning of this liturgical season in view through the entire four jam-packed weeks of Advent remains to be seen. But I'll certainly try. I hope you will too.

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