The thought of not spending so much money at Christmas is both terrifying and freeing! I have long felt that Christmas has lost its meaning and, as a parent, I want my children to “get” what Christmas is really about. Take Easter, for example, with the bunnies, the baskets, and the candy. I have never participated, with adamant resolve; that’s just not what Easter is about. And so my kids “suffer” because of my decision – or at least that’s what it feels like as a parent. Still, it seems that Easter is easier to “opt out of” than Christmas.
Over the last few years, we have sometimes asked extended family to give gifts to worthy organizations rather than directly to us. I felt really strange asking – kind of self-righteous – although that was not my intent. But it felt like a good direction, a small step, a reminder to us all that our ‘gift giving’ is often in excess and begins to lack meaning.
When it comes to the stereotypical traditions of an American Christmas, I am afraid this Conspiracy idea will be complex and difficult to process. In my heart of hearts, I am excited. But in reality, it is hard to imagine. I look forward to learning more about the Conspiracy and how we can teach our children (and ourselves) more about these values and ideas. I think my children, if they really understood how Jesus would celebrate Christmas, would actually come along more quickly than I.
I’ve been reading and studying the book of Daniel through a Beth Moore study, and was hit hard by the truth there in the first chapter about Babylonia which represents a culture that idolizes youth, beauty, intelligence and complete over-indulgence and over-abundance. Sound familiar? The Enemy wants to keep us in the place of captivity, surrounded by all the temptations of the world, but as we succumb we will lose our identity and integrity. “Daniel purposed with his heart” against those temptations. (Dan 1:8)
I must ask myself how much of the culture is getting to me? We are supposed to make a mark for the Kingdom of God. And yet, most of what I buy, eat, and watch encourages the corruption of our culture in my life, tempting me to believe that it’s actually all about me. Isaiah 47:8 says “I am, and there is none besides me.” To me, this challenges our culture of total self-absorption.
To bring it back around to the Advent season and the idea the Conspiracy is challenging us with, let us all pray that God would soften our hearts and harden our resolve to live differently. May we each be open to the ideas here and be willing to be challenged in big ways – not so that we alienate ourselves from the world around us (which is what I fear), but so that we would be open to the Holy Spirit and be able to live differently IN the world as opposed to withdraw into our strange theologies that separate and divide.
I look forward with anticipation to what God is going to do in my husband and me and in our precious children as we face our addiction to stuff and prayerfully become deliberate about our Advent choices. I am so grateful to attend a church that is being prophetic about these issues.
This is something I wrote for my church’s blog.