International (MNN) — Why are Christmas memories more magical than this year’s Christmas reality? Well, part of it is because childhoods tend to have a lot more untainted mystery. But another possibility is that over the years, your role in the holiday has become more hectic than celebratory.
Christmas traditions like gift-giving and parties can be a lot of fun, and they can be important bonding times for family. But often, we’re so bogged down by the busyness, expectations, and plans that Christmas passes in the blink of an eye.
About ten years ago, five pastors concluded this was exactly what they were seeing in other lives and experiencing in their own year-after-year. Instead of feeling full of joy and hope at the remembrance of Christ’s birth, they left the holiday season feeling as though they’d missed something.
Pastor Greg Holder of The Crossing and board member of Living Water International was part of this group and shared with us how their spoken realization turned into a movement for true Christmas celebration.
He says, “There was this growing sense of somewhere along the way, we were missing this opportunity to celebrate appropriately the birth of our King.”
It’s not as though we aren’t aware of the problem. In fact, Holder says, a common reaction from Christians is anger that we’ve let materialism and busyness overtake this most holy of holidays.
Along with the anger comes fear that our culture is swallowing the meaning of the holiday. Every year we play tug-of-war over wishing others “merry Christmas” instead of “happy holidays.” And we don’t have to think too far back to remember the controversy surrounding Starbuck’s plain red cups.
Making a plan
For this reason, the group of five decided they should do something about the growing distractions that plagued Christmas.
“What if we conspired together and said there was a way for us to celebrate Christmas differently, and to do what Jesus asks us to do in the Gospels when it comes to serving the least of these,” Holder says.
With that in mind, they started with their own congregations, teaching them four tenets of Christmas celebration. In short, the tenants are: Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More, and Love All.
Three of the pastors went on to share this movement with the world — leading thousands of churches, families, and small groups to choose a purposeful Christmas. The intentionality and planning this movement encourages is why they’ve called it Advent Conspiracy. Additionally, this intentionality means that to celebrate Christmas more fully, we don’t have to replace our gift-giving or traditions, but rather, think more deeply about how we do it.
Today, we’ll go into the first and foundational tenet:
Holder explains, “It always starts with us coming back to the idea that we will worship the birth of our King, fully. That is the context and background for all we do, not just at Christmas time, but for all we do. Jesus was born, and that changes everything.”
In other words, the purpose of Advent Conspiracy is to make sure the worship of our savior isn’t the side-dish or afterthought in our Christmas celebration. It’s also to make sure the way we celebrate has an impact for the Gospel. We’ll share more on that — and what a ministry like Living Water has to do with it — as we talk about the final three tenets of Advent Conspiracy tomorrow.