Monday, December 03, 2007

Advent Conspiracy I: Worship More

WWJD What Would Jesus Do?

WWJB What Would Jesus Buy

Christmas Jeer- What Would Jesus Buy: the movie Santa doesn’t want you to see! The Shopocalypse is coming!

Tired of the gerbil wheel of life?

Norman Robertson calls himself an 'acclaimed authority on biblical finance and biblical concepts of successful living' and is an advocate of pastors and other Christians living 'prosperous' lives. He is an 'expert who maintains that the Bible declares that God wants His people to prosper'. Robertson claims that Jesus was not poor nor were the Disciples. He begins by pointing out that Kings came to visit Jesus at the age of two and brought lavish gifts. RIDICULOUS!

Televangelists are once again facing some serious scrutiny due to their financial gains and habits that seem to mirror mainstream life. Due we behave any different from the culture as a whole, especially when it relates to Christmas consumerism and consumption?

This year for Advent we are underatking the Advent Conspiracy: Restoring the scandal of Christmas by substituting compassion for consumption.

Our weekly themes will be: Worship more; spend less; give more & love all.

Christmas was meant to change the world, not encourage more consumption and consumerism. It’s an upside down kingdom as Terry reminded us last week.

"Whose birthday is it, anyway and what’s it supposed to mean?”

Is it the birth of the son of God or of free enterprise & the invisible hand?

"According to the catalogs and TV commercials, the holidays are supposed to be filled with joy, music, laughter, and love--happy people doing happy things. For many of us, however, the holiday season is often one of stress, grief, and conflict. Instead of "Thanksgiving gratitude" and "glad tidings of great joy," we find ourselves miserable and angry over small matters ("Who spilled on the velvet tablecloth? Mrs. Critical will be here any moment--what will she think?"). And we catch ourselves pasting on a fake grin as we seethe over yet another sarcastic comment from a relative ("Oh, don't be so sensitive! I was only kidding") Tara Barthel

The more problem infects not only individuals. Consumers and businesses have collaborated to create a culture of craving.

Loneliness is acute at this time of the year. Anxiety and emptiness grip multitudes. Financial failure is magnified.

It’s like everyone is laughing, rejoicing and going places, seeing friends and family—but not them. Past memories crowd back into people’s minds. Fractured friendships, angry arguments, ruptured relationships, divorce and alienation stir up the conscience as well as regret.

People feel stuck, stranded, left behind and out of it. They mask their emotions and hide their feelings because they’ve done it for a long time. They usually hide it, stuff it, deny it and stagger on under a backpack of heaviness. But if only they had someone to open their hearts to, it would pour out like a waterfall.

One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest
Author Ken Kesey reveals to us the connection between freedom, sanity, and one's slavery to the consumer way of life that has become the modern day norm. The process of "nesting," or gathering a wealth of material possessions creates the "prison" in which modern society holds us all captive. According to Kesey, when one finds himself a prisoner, one should not be concerned with cursing one's captor, escape should be the ever-present goal. Kesey's novel portrays a group of men who find themselves in this exact position; conditioned by "the Combine" that is the social structure of present day life. Only they find themselves unable to break their bonds, and it takes their own personal savior, in the form of Randal P. McMurphy to show them the way out. According to Kesey, when one finds himself a prisoner, one should not be concerned with cursing one's captor, escape should be the ever-present goal.

Escape. The way of escape is to worship and recognize God. 24/7!

Worship More

There are many things in life that will catch your eyes, but only a few will catch your heart…pursue those.

Brother Lawrence was a monk who didn’t ‘excel’ at traditional monk things like regular prayer. He was active, maybe even ADD, so he served in the kitchen a great deal.

I gave up all devotions and prayer that were not required and I devote myself exclusively to remaining always in his holy presence. I keep myself in his presence by simple attentiveness and a general loving awareness of God that I call “actual presence of God” or better, a quiet and secret conversation of the soul with God that is lasting. Brother Lawrence

The holiest, most ordinary, and most necessary practice of the spiritual life is that of the presence of God. It is to take delight in and become accustomed to his divine company, speaking humbly and conversing lovingly with him all the time, at every moment, without rule or measure, especially in times of temptation, suffering, aridity, weariness, even infidelity and sin. BL

“I consider myself as the most miserable of all human beings, covered with sores, foul, and guilty of all sorts of crimes committed against my King; moved by sincere remorse I confess all my sins to him. I ask him pardon and abandon myself into his hands so he can do with me as he pleases. Far from chastising me, this King, full of goodness and mercy, lovingly embraces me, seats me at his table, waits on me himself, gives me the keys to his treasures, and treats me in all things as his favorite; he converses with me and takes delight in me in countless ways, without ever speaking of forgiveness or taking away my previous faults. Although I beg him to fashion me according to his heart, I see myself still weaker and miserable, yet ever more caressed by God. This is what I see from time to time while in his holy presence.” BL

“The times of activity are not at all different from the hours of prayer… for I possess God as peacefully in the commotion of my kitchen, where often enough several people are asking me for different things at the same time, as I do when kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament.” BL

You say grace before meals. All right.
But I say grace before the play and the opera,
And grace before the concert and pantomime,
And grace before I open a book,
And grace before sketching, painting,
Swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing;
And grace before I dip the pen in the ink.
G. K. Chesterton

We often think that church, our service, our prayer & singing is "Sacred", divorced from the reat of our life known as the "Secular". Jesus came as an infant to show us that God is in the business of wanting to be with us, to make our secular life sacred. He wants to be with us 24/7. He really does love us & He even likes us too!

Reflection (practice the presence) + engagement (do all that you do for God- Colossians 3:17)

Bart: What religion are we?
Homer: you know, the religion with all the well meaning rules that don’t really work in real life.

"God has been trying to free me from the burden of doing something spectacular for him. It has a way of distracting you from the opportunities to be salt and light where you are…I’m starting to recognize that I am immersed in a sea of hurting people every day. If I simply pay attention and follow the promptings of the Spirit in all these little ways, my life is ‘ministry.’” Jim Palmer

Lets celebrate the life and presence of Jesus together: Communion. Remember this week that that we can Worship More in the midst of our regular life.


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