“This Christmas is going to be different…”

by Stephenie Carr, Missional Living Director

How many times have I told myself that same thing, but before I start to even think about what that might mean for myself and my family, I’m already noticing that the dreaded glittery garlands are dangling from every corner of my life and it feels like it is too late.  Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE Christmas.  I love being with family, I love the traditions, I love the cold air and the Christmas cookies.  I love the gift giving and thinking back to what it would have been like for the characters of the 1st Christmas story to behold God coming into this world.  But in all of that, it seems like each year, the season ends and I’m left wanting – that there was too much of some things and not enough of others.  Like too much hurry and pressure and money spent (and often times too many cookies), and not enough Jesus, healing, loving, worship.  I love the Candlelight service each year at church, but by the time we rush through the last minute gift wrapping, cut our kids’ nap time short and get everyone all dolled up to rush off to the 3 o’clock service and serve during the 5, then book it up to Placerville to celebrate Christmas eve only to shove all of the loot back into the gift bags and book it back to the Candlelight, it feels like the first taste of Jesus all season and I’m full of wishing I had stopped more and longer to find him at his own Birthday party.

Maybe that is just me, or maybe it isn’t.  Christmas has become a consumeristic monster.  The focus has become the gifts, not the real Gift.  Each year Americans spend billions of dollars on material things, all to celebrate the coming of our King who gave up everything to save us from this world.  I’ve been wrestling with this the past few years, ever since our church started participating in Advent Conspiracy, and I still have so many unanswered questions of how to do this in reality, for myself and my family.  I would love to invite you into the struggle as well.  Join Travis, myself, several of our Missional Living team members as we take four weeks out – before Christmas fast approaches – and intentionally think through some of this stuff.  We’ll be using a book and DVD study put together by Advent Conspiracy (link to the website: www.adventconspiracy.org) to guide our discussions, but are hoping some wonderful sharing of ideas, struggles and celebrations will come out of it.

“Understand what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.  This is not about anger, disgust, or guilt – it is about entering the story of Jesus more deeply with a desire to worship more fully.  It is not enough to say no to the way Christmas is celebrated by many; we need to say yes to a different way of celebrating.”  From Chapter 1, Advent Conspiracy

The study group will meet during the 11:00 service in room M207 starting November 14.  Email me (Stephenie.carr@oakhills.or) or call to let me know if you will be joining us, and I’ll make sure to have a book for you.  We have several books available to borrow or if you would like your own copy, they are $10 each.  In any regard, I do wish you a merry Christmas, one full of wonder, excitement and deep celebration!


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