The birth of Jesus was surrounded by people who, at various points, were completely caught up in worshipping and praising God. This is because they believed that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah, the one who will save God’s people. Likewise, the Advent Conspiracy invites those who today believe that Jesus is the Messiah to celebrate his birth by Worship Fully. This is a way of not only celebrating but of living out the story of Jesus’ birth, and even experiencing something of the power of the original event. It means more, however, than just going to church on Christmas Eve. It means finding ways of making worship a central part of our daily preparations for Christmas, and can be as simple as taking a few moments each day to focus on God in prayer, or by listening to our favourite worship music, or even by just sitting in silent reflection and saying to God “this time is for you.”
The family into which Jesus was born had very little material wealth, but with the birth of Jesus they had been given everything. Mary and Joseph were given the one through whom all things were made and by whom everything will one day be redeemed. The Advent Conspiracy invites us to Spend Less and to resist the temptation of being consumed by consumerism at Christmas. But it’s about more than just saving our selves from debt. It’s an invitation to make space for ourselves to experience Jesus as the most important gift in our lives, in the way that was true for Mary and Joseph.
The invitation to Give More may seem to contradict the idea of spending less, but that’s only because our culture has become so dominated by consumerism. There are a great many things which we can and do give to one another which cannot be bought or sold. One of the most important examples of this is the simple gift of our presence.
We’re told in the Gospel of Matthew that the birth of Jesus is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy concerning the one called ‘Immanuel’, a name which means ‘God with us’ (Matthew 1:23). The very first thing which God gives to us in Jesus is the gift of his presence. Jesus is God with us. And so, arguably, the most important gift we can give at Christmas – the one that most clearly reflects the significance of Jesus’ birth – is the gift of our presence.
It’s ironic that in this age of advanced communication technology in which we can connect with countless numbers of people around the world in an instant, many of us are also finding it increasingly difficult to be present to one another in person. We are constantly distracted by our devices and so are less and less attentive and present, not only to the people in the same room as us but even to ourselves – to our own thoughts.
With the birth of Jesus we begin to see the lengths to which God is willing to go just to be with us, to be present to us in person. We see him embracing the frailty and vulnerability of human life as an infant. We see him directly entering the experience of poverty and homelessness, of suffering and uncertainty, all so that he can be with us in person. We see in Jesus the value that God places on presence. What better way then to reflect the meaning of the birth of Jesus than to give more of ourselves, more of our time, more of our attention and more of our presence to the people around us at Christmas?
In Jesus, God did not come into the world just to be with a few of us. In Jesus, he has come to be with all of us. The Gospel of John says that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son. It is in light of this truth that the Advent Conspiracy invites us to prepare for Christmas by finding ways to share God’s love with the whole world.
I hope you’re able to be present with us this week as we continue to explore what it means to know that God is with us and as we continue to look for ways to make God’s love known to the world around us.
High School Youth group- Sunday at 6:30-8:30pm (St Paul’s)
Middle School Youth group- Monday at 7:30- 9:00pm (Bloomfield)