Oak Forest United Methodist Church
Wednesday, January 23, 2019
To Know Christ, To Grow in Christ, To Share Christ

Pastor's Message

December 2018
Advent Conspiracy
     It got started really early this year. In fact, I think it started earlier this year than I remember from last year. Before the Halloween decorations and bags of candy could begin to gather dust on the retail shelf, all the Christmas décor was out for all to purchase. Even my 8 year old daughter was a little disgusted by the speed that the Christmas stuff showed up on the shelf. In her shrillest voice she exclaimed, “What about Halloween? And Thanksgiving?! We haven’t even celebrated those holidays yet!” Well, she’s right and while we may not be a disgusted as she, it seems as if we’ve lost control of a major holiday in the Christian year for the sake of giving our economy as opportunity to end the year in the black (that’s why the day after Thanksgiving is called “black Friday.” And it just builds from Thanksgiving to Christmas. I don’t know about you, but by the time I get to December 25th I am completely worn out. It seems like something is missing, something doesn’t add up. All this eating, spending, driving, planning, cleaning is that what God intended with the birth of the Christ-child?
     I don’t think so… and here’s why. Jesus came to the earth to reconcile all of us to the Father. Jesus walked this earth and showed us the way to live, to spend, to love, to eat and celebrate (and so much more). And most importantly Jesus became human- what we call “Incarnate” so we could have the fullness of life, forgiven from sin, and reconciled to God. Christmas and Easter are the two holiest seasons of the Christian calendar and they work like hinges of our door to God. But… and this is big… Advent and Lent get us ready for these really important days. Advent means the “dawning” and the season is two-fold. We prepare our hearts and souls to remember the way in which God sent Jesus the first time so we will be ready for when Jesus comes a second time. Yes! Advent is actually more about Jesus second coming. We dig into our scriptures, allow them to soak into our souls, and sharpen our awareness of God because God is always with us. And God is moving all of creation towards the fully formed Kingdom of God. This is not meant to scare us or stifle our discipleship, instead Advent helps us to prepare the way for the coming Lord in all that we do.
     Going back to the craziness of the season in our culture… is this really how God wants us to celebrate? This is where the Advent Conspiracy comes in. Three pastors ten years ago said enough along with their churches and they proposed a plan to do things differently. Instead of following the crazy streams of our cultural river, they instead committed to:
Worship Fully
Spend Less
Give More
Love All
     And the point of the Advent Conspiracy is to experience the birth of Jesus more fully and to guide all through the Christmas season in a way that fills our souls with hope and healing, love and acceptance. Join me as we seek to take Christmas back to experience the “Awe-inducing, soulsatisfying mystery of the Incarnation” so we be ready for God who moves in our neighborhood, who makes his home among men and women, who is the truth, the way, and the life for all. (Revelation 21 and John 14). If you are curious and want more information about the Advent Conspiracy go to www.adventconspiracy.org. There you will find devotionals, daily readings, and resources for children.
Peace of Christ,
Pastor Julie