The precise answer to that mystery remains unknown and may never be fully known.
What is pretty clear, however, is that when and where Jesus is in charge things are different. When and where people, trusting that Jesus is Lord, experience the promise of God’s grace and forgiveness things are different. When and where people, believing that Jesus is Lord, demonstrate the same sacrificial love and compassion that he showed, things are different. When people do what’s right even if it’s very difficult because they believe that Jesus is Lord, things are very different. When and where Jesus is in charge things are very different and one day everything everywhere will be very different in all the very best ways, forever.
In the meantime, it’s up to those of us who have come to know and believe that Jesus is Lord to be different. It’s up to us to celebrate and demonstrate the difference that Jesus makes, and what better time to do that than as we prepare to celebrate his birth?
Though Advent is still more than a week away Christmas, nevertheless, is upon us. Lights are going up. The stores are all decked out, and Christmas ads are all over the place, and once again I’m left wondering if any of it actually demonstrates in any way the difference that Jesus makes. Does spending all kinds of time and energy and anxiety trying to create a picture-perfect Christmas actually demonstrate the difference Jesus makes? Does spending all kinds of money on stuff most of us don’t even need?
I think it’s vital that we ask these questions because, regardless of how much any of us might actually buy into it, that is the kind of Christmas we are being sold, and for more and more people in our culture that is the only Christmas they know.
What would our preparations for Christmas look like if we tried to make Christmas about demonstrating the difference that Jesus makes, and making that difference known to the world around us? That’s the idea behind the Advent Conspiracy.
It’s an approach to preparing for Christmas that is being adopted by a growing number of churches and it emphasize the difference that Jesus and his kingdom make by inviting people to explore and practice four ideas that are quite different from what we typically see around us at Christmas. It encourages people to:
WORSHIP FULLY – BECAUSE CHRISTMAS BEGINS AND ENDS WITH JESUS!
SPEND LESS – AND FREE YOUR RESOURCES FOR THINGS THAT REALLY MATTER.
GIVE MORE – MORE OF YOUR PRESENCE, MORE OF YOUR TIME, (BECAUSE THOSE ARE THE GIFTS THAT JESUS GAVE, AND THE BEST GIFTS ANYONE CAN GIVE).
LOVE ALL – THE POOR, THE FORGOTTEN, AND THE MARGINALIZED IN WAYS THAT MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
This year, by giving these ideas an honest try, I intend to spend Advent exploring just what kind of difference Christmas might still make.
Finally, in the gospel for this Sunday (Luke 23:33-43) we are going to see yet again that Jesus is a very different kind of king, and we’re going to see the difference which coming to believe in Jesus’ kingship can make. I hope you can join us and that together we might experience that difference and be inspired to demonstrate it during Advent, at Christmas and well after Christmas.