The idea of an Advent conspiracy sounds intriguing at first, and what it means could depend on our starting point. It could be argued that the conspiracy comes from the side of a consumer society determined to undermine the real purpose of the season. On the other hand, it could mean the opposite of that, and that we are the ones who need to conspire against a dominant mindset. As our Advent study book declares, “We followers of King Jesus would conspire with other like-minded believers to resist what presses in on each of us during the Advent season”.
The assumptions we bring to this time of year are clearly important. It is a question of whether we believe that the spending of money on lavish gifts is the only way we can show love for someone, or if there is another and better way to live our faith in this special season. From where I am sitting, it seems clear that both Advent and Christmas have been hijacked by forces that are largely alien to the spirit of Jesus.
So how can we recapture the true spirit and purpose of Advent, and therefore of Christmas? We are invited to share in a 4-part group study on “the Advent Conspiracy”. In many ways, the four themes tell their own story:
1. Worship Fully … because Christmas begins and ends with Jesus.
2. Spend Less … and free your resources for things that truly matter.
3. Give More … of your hands, your words, your heart.
4. Love All … including the poor, the sick, and the forgotten.
Isaiah 12 includes these words: “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation…” That wonderful promise takes on a very real and practical meaning for many people when the principles of the Advent conspiracy are practiced; for example, how many people have quite literally “drawn water from the wells of salvation” because of gifts to the Christmas Bowl, a response to the Drought Appeal, or as we will read in the book, through partnering with the Living Water Foundation. In many ways, water is life, and to give that gift with the possibility of salvation through faith to others at this time of year, is surely a most precious privilege.
We do not have to follow the crowd, but through sharing in the Advent Conspiracy group study process, we may be inspired to discover, or perhaps re-discover, what Advent and Christmas are really about!
Clive W Ayre