Thursday, December 18, 2008

Advent Conspiracy Update

I am happy to announce that in our fundraising for Living Waters International (the orginization in which Advent Conspiracy supports) has been rather wonderful. From our middle school and high school students we have raised almost $400 towards a very worthy cause. I hope we can continue giving and contributing towards this wonderful cause this Holiday season. I hope everyone has a wonderful and beautiful Christmas. Safe travels and God Bless


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sacrifice vs. Responsibility

A couple of things have come across my desk this past week and I have recently noticed that there is a bit of a theme in all of them.

The first: Advent Conspiracy.

The second: A story from a friend of mine.

Setting: A girl around age 24, who has been searching for jobs but with no success and who was home for Thanksgiving, goes over to her Grandparent’s home. She finds this weird because she has never been there by herself, only with family. They spend a little time on the computer, her grandpa leaves and then this happens: She writes:

“Then my grandpa walks out and comes back with an envelope. They tell me to open it, and it is a check, a very large check, one that will cover a third of my student loan debt. I tell them, "Thank you" and that it was completely unexpected. My grandpa keeps apologizing that he wishes it could be more, but you know, they have money in the stock market as well. I keep telling them that it will help out so much. I don't even realize how much it will help out until I get home. I realize that I can pay off my smaller, higher-interest rate loan. I had been paying more money on it to try to get rid of it sooner and not pay so much interest. So now my monthly bills are reduced by $200, and I have one less loan.

I still can't believe that my grandparents were willing to sacrifice some of their financial security to provide for me, to erase some of my debt. And I never asked for any of it.”

In light of all the requests I have received to donate to any number of charities this holiday season I have come upon a huge dilemma. As Christians knowing the sacrifice that Christ made for us how do we go about following His lead and make sacrifices of our own?

I struggle with knowing what a true sacrifice is. I know that it is good to give money and donate my time to others and charities. But if it is in my schedule and budget then I don't think I am really sacrificing much at all. A true sacrifice is giving up something, Jesus' life for instance, for something that you deem greater in value, our salvation according to God.

Christ put our lives above his own. He suffered death on the cross so that we may have eternal life: The ultimate sacrifice.

And so what do we do every Christmas? We plan ahead and make sure we look for the sales and even get up early the morning after Thanksgiving to save some money so that everyone has the same number of gifts under the tree. We don't want anyone to feel left out or unimportant during the Christmas season. Hardly a sacrifice.

But what if we did what the advent Conspiracy suggests? What if we were to take time and think about some real sacrifices we could make so that those people who are dieing can have a fighting chance at life.

I find it a little ironic and funny even to think that our nation is going through some hard times these past few months. The stock market has gone rogue, jobs are being cut, families are spending less, and saving more. We are feeling a little pinch because we are not as well off as we normally are. I say good, let us feel the pinch. Then maybe we will reposition our priorities and align them more with Christ and not focus so much on our own happiness and more on the happiness of those needing things like clean water and food.

My brother made a comment the other day that made my stomach turn because of the truth in the statement. He said "Organizations with alternative gift options are great...but you can't help but notice how people feel slighted when all they get for Christmas is a slip of paper that says 'a portion of a cow has been donated in your name.'"

It's true. People are so used giving with the assumption of receiving something in return that they have taken the joy out of giving.

What about those people who have no money to give gifts, what happens then? They get creative, they give of their time. They love, they spend time together, they sing, dance, and laugh.

Sacrifice and Responsibility are not different from each other. They are more connected than we realize sometimes. Because of the sacrifice God made we are responsible to make sacrifices of our own so that others may benefit. It is my responsibility. It is your sesponsibility. As Christians, it is our responsibility. This is what the world should wish for. Because out of this self sacrifice comes peace and harmony the world over. Lives are saved, mouths are fed, thirst is quenched and love is shared. And all in the name of Christ.

Be grateful for what you have because you are blessed. Be creative this Christmas with your gifts. Give without expecting to receive. Love unconditionally. Live the story of Christmas.



Advent Conspiracy

ELCA World Hunger

World Vision

Samaritians Purse

Ten Thousand Villages (Fair Trade Gifts)