Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Advent Conspiracy

Worship Fully - Spend Less - Give More - Love All

It's kind of ironic that I'm doing this post just one post after our Carpe Deal'em, Black Friday splurge purchases... however I think the ideas behind "seizing the deal" are right in line with what I'm about to talk about... It's about saving money. It's about getting the same great items for much less costs. I'll get back to that in a bit. It's about spending time with family/friends while doing it and the energetic drive of it all.

Our dear friends, the Dunlap's have had an amazing year of the Lord revealing His will to them in regards to the orphan crisis and our responsibility as believers and followers of Christ to care for the "least of these" in Fall of 2009. This September, in response to their revelation, they were able to bring their little boy, Yohannes home from Ethiopia. For them, caring for the least of these was adopting and now continuing to advocate for those in need... and it doesn't have to look like that for everyone, but we can ALL make a difference and do as Jesus says in Matthew 25, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me". Like me, Mrs. Dunlap and company have not been able to look at the world and the typical American way the same as before their journey began. No longer can we just sit and say "this is the way it is"... instead, God continues to shows us ways we can make His name known and care for the least of these, somewhat taking us out of the "typical way" of doing things lately in the US.

I'll let Mrs. Dunlap say it herself here, because I'm in total agreement:
To be honest, Christmas feels a little different for me this year.  I’m completely over the whole commercialization of the season.  Don’t get me wrong.  I like to decorate, I enjoy riding around with the kids looking at all the lights, spending time with family is great, etc.  I just think (like many things in our culture) that it’s so excessive.  There are people all over the world literally dying every single day, and we’re busy decorating multiple Christmas trees in our warm, cozy houses and running from party to party and store to store to find the “perfect” gift.  It’s estimated that America spends $450 billion every Christmas.  That is some serious money.  Instead of over-indulging or purchasing obligatory gifts, think about how many lives could be changed with that money.  Since Christmas is the time of year when we celebrate the birth of Jesus, shouldn’t we ask ourselves how He would want us to celebrate?  Several months ago, I ran across the Advent Conspiracy website, and I LOVE the ideas promoted there.  If you haven’t seen this video, check it out:

We’re still buying gifts for our kids and other family members this year, but we’re scaling way back.  We’re also trying to purchase more fair trade gifts & gifts with a purpose.  For example . . . to be able to give a great gift AND help a woman in Ethiopia leave a life of prostitution because she has a real, sustainable, dignified job is AMAZING, and those are the kinds of gifts we want to give this year.  Seeing poverty first-hand in Ethiopia and Haiti this year has changed our perspective a bit lot, and we’re not willing to ignore the reality that exists all over the world anymore.  What about you?  Are you doing anything different this Christmas season?  Do you know of good fair trade companies we can help support?  Tomorrow I’ll be posting about some that I’ve come across recently, so stay tuned!

Seriously take the time to check out the quick video embedded there... should we be okay with that - should we be able to sleep at night that we and our fellow Americans spend $450 BILLION every year often buying things no one needs while people worldwide, even here are hungry, without shelter, dying from diseases that have accessible cures if only the finances were given?! I'm not okay with it.

I went further onto the Advent Conspiracy website and love the concept behind it all: Worship Fully (isn't that what Christmas is REALLY all about anyway - worshiping our God for bringing His Son to us!); Spend Less; Give More; and Love All. Take a quick moment and jump on their site to read about each one - they really have hit it spot on. But for now, I'll share the "Spend Less" concept, as I know some of your are thinking already - what a Grinch, we like giving, shut it... but let me show you this.
[Spend Less]

Before you think we’re getting all Scrooge on you, let us explain what we mean. We like gifts. Our kids really like gifts. But consider this: America spends an average of $450 billion a year every Christmas. How often have you spent money on Christmas presents for no other reason than obligation? How many times have you received a gift out of that same obligation? Thanks, but no thanks, right? We’re asking people to consider buying ONE LESS GIFT this Christmas. Just one.  Sounds insignificant, yet many who have taken this small sacrifice have experienced something nothing less than a miracle: They have been more available to celebrate Christ during the advent season.
How much could be accomplished for others and the kingdom if/when we spend less on Christmas? That's my question for us all today - what can you do?

Now back to how this is in line with Carpe Deal'em and the pursuit of savings. We scaled back this year and have just purchased for some family members. In addition, on some gifts we even purchased items that not only give something just to the person we're giving to, but also for a greater cause. For example, last year I got my mom and mother in law these beautiful necklaces - not only were they given a great accessory for any outfit, but the purchase of this necklace also gives a sustainable job to the women of the Karamojong tribe in Uganda. That's a win/win purchase... and the Dunlap's blog post has some other options for such win/win purchases. In addition, Carpe Deale'm helps ensure we "spend less" - when you get things 50-75% off that leaves addition room in the budget to help the least of these.

So take an extra moment and think of ways you can love on your family and friends, but spend less so you and give more, and/or purchase items that give more than just to the family member or friend... that give to those in need and support a greater cause beyond ourselves. How are you benefiting the kingdom this Christmas and sharing the name of Christ the Lord? With your time? With your finances? I'm challenged by this daily.

2 Corinthians 9:6-15
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written:
   “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor;
   their righteousness endures forever.”
 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

Purchase with a Purpose.

1 comment:

Rachael said...

This whole issue has TOTALLY been overwhelming me lately. I've always been annoyed at the excessiveness of Christmas--commercialized Christmas, that is--in our country, but I have been even more so recently. Thank you for posting this! My blogging has been scare lately, but I'm going to have to make time to share this soon.

P.S. I haven't commented because I've just been stealing a minute here and there to read blogs, but I so enjoyed your posts on giving thanks. :)