By Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, December 3, 2015

At Christmas, we celebrate the greatest story of love, and secretly we may wonder how the
very same season has become about so much stress. At Christmas, we celebrate the
costly, but free presence of God in the world, and secretly, or maybe not so secretly, we wonder just how the season has brought too much debt to too many homes. At Christmas, we celebrate God’s first moves in redeeming the world, a world we have filled with stories of what is on sale and the best ways to return our unwanted gifts.

Lord, help us.

As a Christmas corrective, every year I try to remember the work of the Advent Conspiracy. In 2006, five pastors frustrated by the consumerism of the season tried to imagine a better practice for their congregations. Nine years later the “Advent Conspiracy” is a global movement of people who focus on the “reason for the season through four powerful tenets: Worshipping Fully, Spending Less, Giving More and Loving All.

We could learn something from how they define their four tenets.

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.”

Spend Less: “Quick 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 is a call to stop spending money on gifts we won’t remember in less than a year. America spends around $600 billion dollars during the Christmas season, 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.”

Give More: “We know what you’re thinking. “Wait, didn’t they just say I should spend less, and yet here they are telling me to give more? What gives?” The most powerful, memorable gift you can give to someone else is yourself. When it comes to spending time with those you love, it’s all about quality, not quantity.”

Love All: “It all boils down to love. Love from a savior. Love to a neighbor in need. By spending just a little less on gifts we free up our resources to love as Jesus loves by giving to those who really need help.”