We can reclaim Advent from consumerism

Church and finance |

Book offers four audacious ideas

Since retailers are jumping on the Christmas bandwagon/sleigh earlier every year, maybe the church needs to be more proactive if it wants to offer a counter-cultural message on the meaning of this season.

In the book Advent Conspiracy, several ideas are offered to counteract the cultural swing toward a more secular attitude about celebrating the birth of Jesus. They introduce four audacious ideas that could “change the world.”

  • Worship fully: The missing ingredient

    – Understand what you’re doing and why you are doing it. It’s not enough to say “no” to the way Christmas is celebrated by many; we need to say “yes” to a different way of celebrating.

  • Spend less: The story our money tells

    – Spending less does not mean spending nothing. But we can try to consider more fully what we support with our spending.

  • Give more: The gift of meaningful connection

    – Our giving can reflect in some small way the power and beauty of God coming into our world as one of us.

  • Love all: Making a difference here and now

    – Advent Conspiracy isn’t simply about individuals or single churches extending the message of who Jesus is – it’s about the entire body of Christ at work in the world.

The book begins with the attention-getting claim that the fastest-growing religion in the world is radical consumerism.

Consumerism promises transcendence by increasing a person’s status, mystique and confidence! And this religion is the greatest threat to Christianity and the true meaning of the Incarnation.

Throughout scripture, “plenty” usually equaled trouble. The more people had, the more self-reliant they became and the less inclined they were to recognize the hand of God in their lives.

In the desert, soon after leaving Egypt, the Israelites went from wanting water, to manna, to meat – each a legitimate need. But with each generous response by God, rather than gratitude in response, God heard more complaining and dissatisfaction from the people.

Today, when “more” becomes our highest aim, that’s exactly what we get. More debt, more dissatisfaction, more envy, more conflict, etc.

Advent Conspiracy by Rick McKinley, Chris Seay and Greg Holder was revised in 2018 and is in its second edition. It’s filled with stories about people and congregations that transformed their approach to this sacred time of the year by taking a counter-cultural approach to Advent and Christmas – at home and in church.

A small-group guide at the end of the book is designed to help facilitate small-group discussion.

Author

Beryl Jantzi
Director of Stewardship Education