Monday, December 15, 2008

Advent Conspiracy (Give More)

John 1 is a less traditional Christmas story. We typically read Matthew or Luke; or to throw some Old Testament in the mix, we read about coming kings and virgin births in the prophets. But John 1 is a profound theological look at the Christmas story. John describes a God who became a human being, a God that "made his dwelling among us." The whole idea of giving gifts at Christmas is trumped by what Christ gives--himself
"Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God." (vs 12, emphasis mine)
With the junior high students on Sunday, we talked about how God gives of himself fully and relationally. God's idea of the perfect gift doesn't come in material possessions or theoretical blessings, but in a tangible person. So we spent our morning celebrating God's way of giving in two ways. First, we made gifts that emphasize relationship. We wrote cards of appreciation and thanks to loved ones; we decorated picture frames for friends and family; we made videos telling parents how thankful we are for them. While we were doing all this, we celebrated the relationships we had right there with us. We enjoyed one another's company. We hung out. We spent time talking and laughing and eating donuts. We shot each other with finger darts (at least the 7th grade boys did).

I love the Advent Conspiracy expression this year: give presence. That idea can get swallowed up in Starbucks gift cards and Black Friday door busters. As a society, we need to relearn the value of simply being together, learning to enjoy every moment we have with the people in our lives. It was awesome to see junior high students just enjoying each other. We can learn a lot from their young wisdom.

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