The Advent Calendar Conspiracy – Day 4

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The Advent Calendar Conspiracy – Day 3

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The Advent Calendar Conspiracy – Day 2

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The Advent Calendar Conspiracy – Day 1

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Advent

Tomorrow we begin the Advent Calendar Conspiracy.  Each day a video will be posted highlighting the contrast between the commercialisation of Christmas and the reality many of us experience.  You can also follow on twitter @adventcalcons.

This video is what I am going to show in the morning as we begin advent in our community.  It was passed on by a teacher friend of mine from when I was an RE teacher.  Happy days….

The Advent Calendar Conspiracy

Have you started opening the windows on your advent calendar? Is there chocolate inside? Wondering if there is more than this? I mean what are we really heading towards anyway? Some tinsel, a new jumper from your mum and a roast turkey? Is that it?? Really?!

Each day we will post a new 30 second animoto video clip juxtaposing the issues we face with wealth and poverty and the consumer culture that surrounds Christmas. What is it, or who is it we are really heading towards this December……

www.facebook.com/adventcalendarconspiracy

My Chains Fell Off

“Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?”

That is just a little excerpt from next Sunday’s reading, a taster if you will.  How often do we look for examples of justice and mercy to illustrate the Christian faith?  Today one dropped in my lap when someone shared it with me.  There is an article in today’s Guardian explaining that Richard Branson has started to encourage Virgin to employ recently released offenders and those who are approaching release as a way of giving people that second chance.

 “Everybody deserves a second chance,” … “One of the prisoners I met in Melbourne told me he’d been released with no money. He had to find his own way to the city. He was thrown back out into this world with no help whatsoever. The end result was that he was back inside in a very short time. For people coming out of prison it’s a vicious circle. If they can’t get a job, the only thing they can do is reoffend. From society’s point of view that can be very painful.”

 

That Christmas Advert

OK, perhaps not that Christmas Advert

Over the last two years society has increasingly looked at the state of the nation’s finances on both a macro and a micro level.  We are starting to see a relationship between the prosperity of the country and the way in which people treat the money in their pockets.  People are examining the causes of our current financial state and finding that people were spending money they didn’t have on things that they perceived that they needed because external pressure was applied to them.  The systems increasingly indoctrinated people into using credit to buy trinkets and gadgets to prove their worth to the world around them or the value of their love to another.

I regularly listen to the radio throughout the day whilst I am working and the above advert is played regularly.  Its catchy format lends it to audio as well as video by capitalizing on the old song by Terry Scott, “My Bruvva”.  Yesterday on the blog I tried to articulate something about the way in which Christmas could still inspire us to change the world.  With this in mind it is with sadness that I am confronted with the old world order every twenty minutes throughout the day.  Nothing says ‘I love you’ like a child induced guilt trip over an X-Box, 0% finance and crippling debts for… my lovely, lovely mother.

Now that’s the real meaning of Christmas :-/

All I Want for Christmas: The Advent Conspiracy

It can’t be a year can it?  Really?!?  We find ourselves once again in the middle of Advent making that almost inevitable journey towards Christmas.  Some of us have time-honoured traditions that we follow each year.  You will probably recognise these as part of your yearly routine as you prepare for the feast of Christmas.  Advent is a time of prayer and fasting in preparation for the twelve days of the Christmas season.

What do you mean this doesn’t sound familiar?

It seems there is an increasing disparity between the Christmas the church historic celebrates and the winter festival upon our TV screens and high streets.  At the heart of the two thousand year tradition was the tale of a child.  Christ’s birth tells of the incredible love that God has for the world.  As God stepped into His creation he began an earthly life in inauspicious surroundings placed by His teenage mother into a manger.  He joined a world marred by inequality, poverty and violence.  The Divine Christ Child came bringing a promise of hope, and a message of revolutionary love.

So how did we get from the Christ Child to 2011 and how has the world been changed by this message of hope?  Within the last few generations society’s structure has changed and we now live in a consumerist culture that drives us with a constant pressure to buy, to use and replace the things we have in our life.  As we look to the world around us we see an explosion of winter spending that is focussed upon this word Christmas.  What was once a time to celebrate the birth of a saviour has somehow turned into a season of stress, traffic jams, crowded streets and shopping lists. 

When it’s all over what are we left with?  Many of us return to those same shops to exchange the gifts we didn’t want.  We live in fear of the post coming through the door and the looming debt that will take months to pay off.  As we move through January is there an empty feeling inside of missed purpose? Is this what we really want out of Christmas?

What if Christmas became a world-changing event again?

This isn’t about being Scrooge and saying “humbug”.  In fact it is the polar opposite of that.  Scrooge wanted to get as much as he could out of the world and store it up for himself at the expense of those around him.  Christmas is much more significant than that.  God’s gift to us through Christ is a relationship built on love.  With this in mind, it is easy to see that Christmas would become the time when we seek ways to show our family and friends how much we love them.  What if we took that incarnational gift of love God gave us in the Christ Child as inspiration for the gifts we give this Christmas?  What if Christmas became 12 days dedicated to the significant people in our lives.  As children take time from their studies at school and people take time off from work, time becomes the real gift that Christmas gives us.

No matter how hard we look around the shops, we won’t find this gift of time:

“Time to make a gift that turns into the next family heirloom. Time to write mum a letter. Time to take the kids sledging. Time to bake some really good cookies and sing really bad Christmas carols. Time to make love visible through relational giving. Sounds a lot better than getting a sweater two sizes too big, right?”Advent Conspiracy

As the world looks to the issues of wealth and poverty I encourage you to get together and give a gift that is meaningful.  Why not give a gift that is significant?  Why not have a look at Christian Aid’s wishlist at http://www.presentaid.org/ ?

A gift like this will transform someone’s life!  Surely this is the real meaning of Christmas? 

So…….   If you like me a little, why not buy me a goat.  If you like me more why not buy me 24 ducks?  If you like me a lot, I’ve always wanted to be a herdsman…..

And if you’ve already bought something, don’t stress about it – that would be self defeating.  And if you do buy me a goat, don’t do what my mate Tim did one year and panic after buying goats for his family and buy “proper presents” at the last minute.  This is a “proper present”.  This will make me happy.  I will genuinely enjoy opening them and seeing what is inside!

Why not give a gift that is inspired by God who cared so much about humanity he took the risk of taking human flesh and living amongst us.  He came bearing a message of hope that can still change the world for the better even two thousand years later!

The Bible and the English Language

The Open University have produced some great potted history videos with famous people doing a quick run down of a topic.  My favourite is David Mitchell’s look at Schrödinger’s Cat.  This one is probably more use to the readers of this blog though…