Saturday, December 15, 2007

a more meaningful advent

Several readers responded to the post below, which went out as my monthly newsletter yesterday. My dear friend Wendy from Richmond VA wrote about some positive steps she and friends are taking to implement a more meaningful Christmas this year. Here's part of what she sent to me:
"It is amazing to me that so many times your writings mirror what I have been pondering or experiencing in my own life. ...
In Donald Miller's book Blue Like Jazz, he refers to the Advent Conspiracy. I read that book several years ago and really loved it. This year our church has joined other churches in being a part of the Advent Conspiracy and our family has committed to keeping a Christ-Centered Christmas, spending 25% less, giving that money to 1 of 3 organizations and to be intentional about the gift of time to family and friends. What a challenge that can be in this world that we live in.

Our son plays basketball for the an organization called Upward Sports. Someone from the host church offers a devotion during half-time. At one game, a man talked about a mission trip which he and his family took to a village in Africa. He told a story about watching a young girl dig in mud to find water. She would put the water in a rusty can and then walk a couple of miles back to her home and repeat the process over and over again. Hearing this story, something inside me stirred. About a month later we were at the soccer fields and I watched over and over again as people threw empty and half full water bottles into the trash cans. It is amazing how much we can take for granted our easy access to so many things - especially clean water. Two days later I was watching Oprah and she did a segment on Heroes. She had a teenage boy named, Ryan, on the show and he shared his journey with raising money to build wells at the ripe old age of 6. He began the Ryan's Wells foundation. This moved me and I went on-line to research more. When I typed in Ryan's Wells a list of organizations came up and one of them was called "Living Water."
Visiting the website really touched me. Living Water offers a 2 week challenge. You can request the kit that they provide for this. For 2 weeks you drink nothing but water. For example, if at a time you would have normally had 2 cups of coffee then you put 25 cents in a cup and drink water instead and then offer a prayer of gratitude for what we have and a prayer for those who are in need. I took the challenge to my small group who immediately jumped on board. Our son, Connor, also participated in the challenge.
Our group raised over $400 by participating in this challenge and it was really fun to do.
Some folks would call for support - I'm really wanting to drink that cup of coffee. One friend decided in addition to drinking water that she would take 45 minutes to start exercising by walking everyday. During that time she committed to pray for those who live without clean, fresh water."

Wendy's story is inspiring--she listened to God's promptings, and joined with others to do something to make a difference! Let's hear from others of you who are changing the way you show God's love at Christmas time.

Later today I'll post something from another reader--meanwhile, add your own comments by clicking the "comment" word below.




Keri Wyatt Kent said...

Here's a comment from Mandy, a reader from Memphis:
We adopted the Advent Conspiracy as a church and it has been a challenging, but wonderful way to celebrate the birth. We are learning to take baby steps to make this a way of life within our family. It won't happen overnight, but slowly, our family is trying to give more relational gifts rather than the easy, impersonal gift cards! Ironically, I've been more stressed about gift giving this year because I'm not allowing myself to buy the easy gifts! But I know Christmas will be more meaningful. We also chose to send a Christmas video this year on YouTube, saving us over $100 we would have spent on Christmas cards and postage. That money, plus the money we save on shopping, we are donating to the Advent Conspiracy offering our church is taking. I can't wait to see what an impact it will make on the clean water initiatives!

Dianne said...

Our pastor's Advent series is based on this Advent Conspiracy. Today's message was on "consume less." Wow. Lots to think about! And as if God wants to make sure I get the message, here you are talking about the same thing!

Keri Wyatt Kent said...

Very cool, Dianne. I love the idea of not just spending less on Christmas, but redirecting that money to help the poor.