advent conspiracy: spend less

Sunday, December 9, 2012

AC_Spend_WORDQuick question for you: What was the one gift you remember getting for Christmas last year? Next question: What about the fourth gift? Do you remember that one? Truth is many of us don't because it wasn't something we necessarily wanted or needed. Spending Less isn't a call to stop giving gifts; it's a call to stop spending money on gifts we won't remember in less than a year. America spends around $450 billion dollars during the Christmas season, and much of that goes right onto a credit card. By spending wisely on gifts we free ourselves from the anxiety associated with debt so we can take in the season with a full heart. We’re asking people to consider spending less this Christmas (maybe buying one less gift-just one). Sounds insignificant, yet many who have taken this small sacrifice have experienced nothing less than a miracle: They have been more available to celebrate Christ during the advent season.
(text from adventconspiracy.org)

This week continues to be the most difficult of the weeks when it comes to the new way we, as a family and congregation, focus on Christmas. Part of it is because gifts are my love language. Part of it is because the true religion in America is consumerism, and I am not immune to its charms. Part of it is because there is such joy in giving to others, and I don’t want to miss out on that.

But it’s not that I’m saying ‘no gifts’. We still give gifts. Our kids get three each – one for reading, one for wearing, one for playing. Or as I read on a blog earlier this year, “The Baby Jesus only got three gifts. Are you better than the Baby Jesus?” (Apologies if you wrote that – I can’t, for the life of me, remember where I read it.) All that’s being said here is “spend less”.

For me, this is about where I place my allegiance. Is it with the religion of consumerism that permeates our culture? Or is it with the Kingdom of God? My striving, if I allow it to take its natural bent, will always end up towards comfort and leisure and my American rights/freedoms and bigger houses and well-behaved children and more and more stuff and on and on and on. That’s not the upside-down Kingdom that Christ calls me to be a part of.

His kingdom is one of sacrifice. Self-denial. Giving to others. Hanging on to our comfortable, safe lives with all of its luxuries and stuff is not part of the deal.

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Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?
Matthew 16:24-25

 

Turning from my selfish ways? That’s a requirement I’d rather leave behind.
Take up your cross? Not the most attractive of ideas.

But saving my life? That’s the kind of thing I can get behind. That’s the kind of thing that will help me say no to all the selfishness, say yes to the sacrifice, and follow Christ all the way, every day.

Let go. Give in. Give up. Surrender. (thank you, Ben Lee)

That’s where it’s at this Christmas and all year long.

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Do you do anything intentional regarding spending and gift-giving at Christmas? I’d love to hear your family’s practices and traditions.

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