Tag Archives: advent

are you buying or telling

Christmas: Are You Buying Or Telling?

are you buying or telling

Recently, I read that the US uses 70% of the world’s resources (actually, I think that it’s more accurate to say that richest 20%, but anyway). The period of time between Thanksgiving and Christmas produces 40% of retail revenue for the entire year. 

Truth telling. 
Are you kidding me?

Forty percent of business has to have Christmas or there won’t be an economy. 
Sounds absolutely crazy. 
If the thing is about Jesus, it does anyway. 

History Lesson Time

“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.” [Lk 2:1-3]

When Luke tells the story about Jesus, it starts with an insane amount of money; kind of like 40% of the economy. A census was not about a Caesar who cared about each and every person in his empire. It was about a Caesar who cared about how much each and every person in the empire owed him. 

BIG Difference!

It took a huge military for Rome to maintain its “Peace, Love and Understanding” foreign policy. What’s so funny???

Augustus, conquerer of the whole dang world, needed some cash, so a census was the answer. Each person was taxed on everything coming and going and the only way to make sure the Romans got dey deep rolls of fat Benjamins was to register all of the people that were under Roman rule. 

Caesar was concerned with bringing people together to find out how much tax people owed him. Jesus brought people together and paid their debts himself. 

Caesar tied people down to an economy they couldn’t bear.
Jesus freed people into a new economy of God’s love and grace. 

Visa, Caesar. 
Caesar, Visa.

The story of Christmas isn’t that we have to buy gifts, it’s that we were given one. It’s not that we go into debt. The story of Christmas is that God created a way for us to get out of it. That’s an absolutely amazing story. It’s the most profound story that exists. Everybody wants to sell you something. Only Jesus wants to buy you back (as funky as you may be).

So are you buying or telling?

There’s this song, “Go tell it on the mountain,” the lyrics make you stop and re:think the whole deal. “Go tell it on the mountian, over the hills and everywhere, Go tell it on the mountain, that Jesus Christ is born.”

If that song were written today, perhaps the lyrics would be:

Go tell it to your neighbor, 
cook up a meal and tak it over there, 
Go tell it to your network, 
that Jesus Christ has freed you from the debt 
that weighed down your soul like a credit card bill.”
(you have to sing that last line really fast)

This #ChaoticChristmas, can you do more telling than buying?

What's The Point Christmas

What’s The Point Of Christmas?

[This is the beginning of an #Advent series (a fancy Christmas season word which means, “Look out G, Jesus is coming!”) of indeterminable length. I have a count of 16 titles up to this point, so check back for inspiration during December or join the mailing list to receive the latest post in your inbox fresh like chestnuts roasted on an open fire.]

What's The Point Christmas

What’s the point of Christmas? To find out, last night, my family watched the Peanuts Christmas Special. If it’s been a while, go ahead watch it. It’s still as good as it used to be back in the day. That Charles Schultz was a prophet, man, using Charlie Brown like God used Jeremiah.

Full of existential angst, Chuck cycles through his group of friends, picking apart their approach to Christmas. One’s too philosophical. One’s too anemic. One’s too materialistic. And this was 1965. They had philosophy back then?

What lies at the chewy center of “Brown’s Dilemma” (can I ™ that?), is that no one can tell him what the point of Christmas is. There’s the postmodern: what is it to you? The post-decorative doghouse: it’s whatever you can hang on the dog house. The post-consumer: whatever you can desire, buy, wrap and figure out a way not to have to give it to someone else. 

As I watch the blood thirsty hoards wrestle their way into America’s retail coliseums, it doesn’t seem like much has changed.

So, what is the point of Christmas? 

Is it:

A time for family to get together?
A time for roast beast?
A time to watch our favorite Christmas movies?
Listen to our favorite Christmas stations on Spotify?
A time for good people to give other good people good things?
A time to direct Christmas dramas?
A time to preach through Christmas sermons?

If you lick the Tootsie Pop (a metaphor for the meaning of Christmas) three times and get down to it’s chewy core, we find that there’s one right answer to Charlie Brown’s question and young Linus nails it. 

That’s it. 

That’s Christmas. 

It makes materialism the most widely accepted addiction on the planet.

Christmas begins with ‘Christ’ and ends with ‘s’.

It’s when we remember to remember that God collided with the world so that we could be free; free from darkness, free from pointlessness, free from our ism du jour.

Everything else is Christmas wrapping (BTW, my favorite non-Christmas Christmas song)

Have you ever felt “Brown’s Dilemma” like good Charlie Brown? Let us know in the comments. 

Advent: More Than Meets The Eye

Today is the first day of Advent. During the season of Advent, we prepare to celebrate the crash landing of the King of the Cosmos and at the same time we wait for the arrival of a baby that changed the World.

I’ve always loved the beginning of the original Transformers movie. If you watch the first few seconds of the trailer above, you’ll see the approach and crash landing of the Transformers. It’s always made me think of Advent.

Why? Well, I’m like that.

Advent is a countdown to Cosmic Collision

Before Jesus was born, the world was awaiting transformation.
There was a feeling, a fear that God had become distant and unconcerned with his creation.
The past was painful.
The present was white noise.
The future was hopeless.
But then…in a stable in Bethlehem,
God crash landed into human history.

Advent is a time where we sit in the tension of the unknown,
the promise of the unknowable and the reality of what we have seen and heard.

Advent is a Special Effect of Biblical Proportions

When you look at the Transformers trailer, especially the movie,
the effects are just seriously cool.
A starlike thing crashing in the earth.
That’s some serious CGI.
One would think that God coming to earth would require a team of tech specialists.
But The Lord did it old school, birth canal…delivery.

Advent is a time where we marvel at God who becomes one of us.

Advent is More Than Meets The Eye

The most awesome thing is that the Transformers
are one thing that becomes another thing.
They are more than meets the eye.
The leader is a Semi who is more than a Semi.
In the manger, Jesus is a baby who is more than a baby.
He is more than the first born of Mary.
Paul calls him, “the firstborn of creation.”

Advent is a time where we prepare for wonder and amazement.

What does Advent mean to you?

Sunday Setlist 11/29/09

In keeping with the fine tradition over at fredmckinnon.com, here is today’s set list.

The first Sunday of Advent was just fantastic. We don’t usually do much “liturgy” in our Contemporary Service, but today it was filled with “the work of the people,” and much the better for it.

We started the service with this video from Sting’s new album, If On A Winter’s Night.

The first song was Come Thou Long Expected Jesus. Simple guitar and drum machine, a solid way to begin our season of Advent.

After the Call to Worship and lighting of the advent candle, we sang Glorious (Chris Tomlin) and Prince of Peace (You Are Holy).

After the sermon, a little Marvelous Light for the offertory. We closed the service with I Saw the Light/Go Tell It On The Mountain (yeehaws included!)

As you may have guessed, Light was the theme that connected today’s worship (Is 9:2)

Hope your morning was consumed by the Spirit!