I get it. The whole idea of an “advent conspiracy” sounds subversive and maybe even criminal. So why would a Jesus loving, Bible teaching, people reaching church like ours be involved? Are there really people who are plotting to undermine the Christmas advent season for their own nefarious purposes?!
Let’s be clear. The whole idea of the advent season tradition has been to heighten our anticipation for celebrating the coming of Jesus the Savior into our world. And when remembered with carols and scriptures and prayers of worship the season really can encourage a fresh wonder for God’s great Gift to us in Christ.
But this season can also get buried in a “Christmas” pile of too many things to do. School programs, work parties, Black Friday and Cyber Monday specials, “Get those lights up, and don’t forget the tree.” Trying to get it all in before the big day can leave you exhausted. And there’s nothing worse than a grumpy “Grinch” attitude for a season that by every right ought to leave us awash in joy.
So, here’s the “conspiracy.” We’ll choose to resist the Christmas crunch that tries to do it all and then some more. We’ll conspire instead to start our days with a quiet look through the Scriptures at Jesus (advent reading guides available in our sanctuary foyer). We’ll look for ways each day to make genuine connections with people, after all, it’s people that Jesus came to save. And we’ll choose to buy less for ourselves and in the spirit of Jesus to give more to those who have real needs.
As one small part of our “subversive” efforts and in keeping with our conspiracy tradition here at SBCCV, our leadership have identified a couple of worthy projects as a special focus for our giving in this advent season. Even as we give thanks for the blessing of life we have in Jesus, we’ll also have opportunity to reach out in care for the people of two needy communities, one local and one far away.
On the international scene we’re partnering with Elizabeth’s Library International to care for the people of Susu village in Zambia. As home to ELI’s first rural library in Zambia, this little community has been a strategic center for sharing the gospel through its library, literacy ministry and school. But with the recent collapse of their fresh water well, the people of this village have no local access to clean water, and the region’s Health Ministry is inclined to close down the Christian school. The need for a new well is urgent. Our gift of just more than $6000. can meet that need. The gift of fresh water for this community would not only sustain lives and prevent disease, it would enable the ministry of the local school to keep giving the Living Water of the gospel to thirsty souls.
Locally, we are joining with our missionary, Nancy Donat, in her inner-city ministry in the rough Lowell neighborhood of Fresno. Years ago, a young boy, Hector Chavez, came to Teen Night led by Nancy, and there he opened his heart to Christ’s love. He continued there, growing in Christ and eventually helping in the ministry, until entering and serving six years in our military. Now Hector has returned, married, and is once again ministering to the youth of his home town community. Recently Hector and Clara were accepted as local missionary candidates by International Teams to continue serving in this Fresno ministry. But raising support for full time service through local contacts in Hector’s community is indeed a challenge. So, all monies we receive this month over and above our gift for the well in Zambia will be given to the Chavez family to help them get launched into full time ministry.
Sometimes it’s worth it to buck the system and go against the flow of where some of our traditional Christmas activities tend to take us. With that in mind, why don’t you join me in this “advent conspiracy.” On your way out to squeeze in a dinner party with friends or to shop for one more gift at the next big Christmas sale, remember the Susu children and the kids on the street in the Lowell neighborhood. Together our gifts for these needy communities can make an eternal difference as they pave the way for God’s Gift in Christ to be shared more freely. Join with me, won’t you, and let’s be a little subversive this advent season.