Saturday, November 27, 2010

Celebrating Advent

I'm sure I am not the first and won't be the last preacher to lament the status of this time of year in our culture.  Nevertheless, as I reflected on the reading from Isaiah this week, I couldn't help but think (again) about how little our practices in these December weeks have anything to do with the things we claim to value as the Church.  On Sunday, we are hearing about a savior who will bring a peace to our world so radical and complete that it will render weapons so useless and void of value that they will be melted down to be used in farm equipment.  And we celebrate and anticipate that peace with more shopping/consuming/stress/materialism/busyness/obligation?  Sounds like the opposite of peace to me.  Anyway, here are few practices, however small,  I thought might help us anticipate the radical peace that our scriptures promise during this Advent season at our church.  It's not a comprehensive list by any means.  I'd be interested in hearing any ideas you might add to the list.

·        Schedule moments of silent reflection throughout the month of December
·        Agree with a loved one to forgo giving each other another gift that neither of you really needs and give the money you would have spent to a charitable organization
·        Give your time to someone who may be lonely this holiday season
·        Read a chapter of the Gospel of Luke with your family every day in December.  If you start on Dec. 1 and read a chapter a day you will finish on Christmas Eve. 
·        Sign up to ring the bell for the Salvation Army on Saturday, Dec. 4.
·        Figure up the amount of money you spent on your largest shopping day and add that amount to your tithe one week in December. 
·        If stress and busyness are a problem for you this time of year, then commit now to saying no to at least one social obligation this holiday season.
·        Spend at least 15 minutes praying for peace and justice in our world for every hour that you spend shopping. 
·        In place of giving a gift to the pastor and his family (who already know how much you love them) give a gift to a child or teen in our church you don’t know very well (so that they will know they are loved as well). 
·        Don’t use a credit card for your holiday shopping.  If you can’t afford it now, then don’t buy it.  
·        Ask others for a Nazarene Compassionate Ministries Gift Card as their Christmas gift to you.  

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