worship fully

Thursday, December 1, 2011

One of ways that our church community celebrates Advent each year is to take part in something called Advent Conspiracy. We’ve done this for four years now, and it has quite literally changed the way our family and I would guess a significant percentage of our church does Christmas. Our church joined the year after it started with just three churches in various parts of the country, but today there are thousands of churches participating all over the world. This is exactly the kind of thing the body of Christ should be known for, rather than the conspicuous consumption that overwhelms this season.

Truthfully, God was working on my heart long before Advent Conspiracy came around. We used to attend another local church in addition to our own quite regularly, and many, many years ago, their pastor was convicted to change the way they did Christmas at their church and started The Sudan Project. One of his favorite things to say is something we’ve adopted in our family ever since we heard it the very first time years and years ago, “Christmas is not your birthday.” You’ll hear this phrase around our house nearly daily during the Christmas season. Christmas as Jesus’ birthday seems like something so juvenile and Sunday-school. But it’s the truth. We spend so much time making Christmas like our birthday – there’s gifts and games and parties and cookies…what are we doing to change the focus?

Brief plug: Mike has a new book out this year highlighting this – Christmas is not Your Birthday. Buy it – it’s good stuff.

So, for this year, I thought I’d do a series to highlight the various weeks of Advent Conspiracy. Hopefully inspire you to make some changes in how you celebrate the season! Originally, I had planned to do this series on Wednesdays. (That didn’t work this week, and I hope you don’t hold me to it in subsequent weeks.) I plan to share the basic principles of the week, and then some ways that our family is celebrating them this year.

The four weeks of Advent are Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More, Love All. Simple. Yet so very complicated given all of our cultural traditions and family pressures and selfish desires. Advent Conspiracy reminds me every year how very difficult it is to live a life of true discipleship.

[Worship Fully]
It starts with Jesus. It ends with Jesus. This is the holistic approach God had in mind for Christmas. It’s a season where we are called to put down our burdens and lift a song up to our God. It’s a season where love wins, peace reigns, and a king is celebrated with each breath. It’s the party of the year. Entering the story of advent means entering this season with an overwhelming passion to worship Jesus to the fullest.
(description from adventconspiracy)

Here are some things we’re doing this year to worship God more fully:

  • Truth in the Tinsel – This is an Advent series specifically for kids. Last year, we did a Jesse Tree, but that was pretty difficult for Brenden and even Maggie to understand. This year, with Niah old enough to participate with certain things, I wanted something geared more towards the kids.
  • Advent candles – We have an Advent candle display on our dining room table. We’ll be lighting each candle each week and talking about each specific week. For example, this past week was the Hope candle. A question for the kids is, ‘Where, specifically, are you showing hope to someone around you?’ Even preschoolers can grasp this concept.
  • Music – We play a lot of Christmas music. Not just the ‘fun’ songs either. (Although, the Beibs has gotten quite a bit of play time lately. Don’t mock me. He’s a wonderful Christmas pop of delight.) I spend time talking with the kids about what the songs mean, what my favorite songs are and why, and we play a lot of newer Christmas worship music.
  • “The Prayers” – This is what Brenden continues to call my Common Prayer book. Building some regular devotion time, reading the same readings that people all over the world are reading each day – they both connect me to God and to His family here on earth in a way that other spiritual practices in my life do not.
  • Readings – I have a lot of Christmas books. I read them all every year. Sometimes for fun, sometimes for devotional purposes, sometimes alone, sometimes with the children. I’ll highlight a few of my favorites later this month.

What are you doing to worship God more fully this year?
What are some ways that you are changing the focus from ourselves to Jesus?

I’d love to hear your ideas and practices!

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