Monday, December 10, 2007

Advent Conspiracy Week 2 (Spend Less)


To read my first post on the Advent Conspiracy and about the week one them of Worship More, click on this link.

The AC's focus of week two is to Spend Less. Erin and I put aside money each month to prepare for Christmas and when we looked at the total in savings a couple weeks ago, we thought "we've got more than enough money to buy gifts for everyone." But when we started budgeting out the money we realized we'd be cutting it pretty close which actually made us pretty frustrated. My thought later was "that's just not what Christmas is all about." And this is why we're challenged TF to join the Advent Conspiracy. Here's some teaching from the AC website I was planning on sharing with you on Sunday.

When Christ was born the empire was threatened and as a result Herod, who was one of the more powerful kings of the day, ordered the killing of all the boys two years old and under who were in Bethlehem. The reason for this was that he hoped to take out the child-King that posed a threat to his kingdom.

While we are not living under Herod’s reign, there is another empire of consumerism and materialism that threatens our faithfulness to Jesus. Jesus brought with him such an extraordinary Kingdom that is counter-culture to the kingdoms of this world.

Part of saying “yes” to Jesus means that we say “no” to over-spending. We say “no” to over consumption. We say “no” to these things so we can create space to say “yes” to Jesus and His reign in our lives. The National Retail Federation was forecasting that Americans would spend approximately $457.4 billion at Christmas in 2006.1 The American Research group estimated an average of $907.00 per family to be spent at Christmas in 2006.2 After the Holiday we work for months to get out of debt, only to find that the presents we bought in the name of Christ furthered a consumerist mentality in us and our children and took our focus off of the greatness of Jesus. As Christ-followers, the Advent Conspiracy starts with us resisting a culture that tells us what to buy, wear and spend with no regard to bringing glory to Jesus.

I had also planned to read a great article from Newsweek with some good ideas on how to take away the financial stress of Christmas. I found it interesting that Newsweek acknowledged that financial pressure was robbing many of their readers of the joy of Christmas. I feel the same pain for TFC. These tips come from the article entitled "De-Stressing Christmas."

Give time, not things Take nieces and nephews on an outing to a museum or slaking rink, with an ice-cream or cocoa stop. Offer to cook, run errands, dog-walk or handle other chores for family members. Buy a bagful of compact fluorescent light bulbs for an elderly relative, go to his home and install them.

Skip gifts for adults Most folks can afford to buy themselves the $30 item you were going to buy them anyway. The extended family can pool their money and take a day trip or meet to decide which charity to give it to. Or gather and "shop" at http://www.alternativegifts.org/, which lets you give targeted charitable presents - like a goat or bicycle for a poor African-village family - to friends and relatives.

Make a game of giving Instead of everyone buying multiple gifts for several relatives, draw names. That way, each relative buys just one present; it's cheaper and allows you more time to fuss over getting the right gift. You can go a step further and make it a minimalist contest by setting a $5 or $10 limit and seeing how creative everyone can be for less.

Pick and choose Analyze the holiday activities to decide which ones you really like and which are just a burden. Eliminate the burdens by baking with friends, making the holiday dinner a potluck and just skipping some altogether. Replace them with fun, like a family winter hike or multi-generational photo-labeling session. Unless, of course, that's your burden.

1 comment:

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