Thursday, November 29, 2007

Faith and Money II: The Advent Conspiracy

In the past week, I have blogged about faith and money, and I have blogged about the inane obsession by some on the so-called "War on Christmas". Well, today I read an article that puts the two together. It seems that a group of clergy have formed a so-called Advent Conspiracy that aims to wage it own Christian war on Christmas--not the religious holiday of Christmas, but the secular comemrcialization of Christmas:


Americans will spend about $475 billion this year on gifts, decorations and parties that many won't even remember next year. They will run themselves ragged--shopping, wrapping and celebrating. And some won't pay off their Christmas debt until March, if they're lucky.



"We celebrate Jesus' birthday by giving ourselves presents," McKinley says. "We don't give him anything."



McKinley is pastor of the Imago Dei Community, a Christian church of about 1,500 members that meets in a high school auditorium here. It dawned on McKinley as he prepared an Advent sermon last year that the call today is to resist consumerism and give gifts like God does.



"These are relational gifts," he says: God gives himself to people, so people will give of themselves to the poor.



So McKinley and a few pastor friends from around the country hatched what they called the Advent Conspiracy. They challenged their congregations: Spend less on Christmas, give relational gifts and donate the money saved to the poor.



Three congregations collected $430,000--Imago Dei collected $110,000 on a single Sunday--and gave most of that to Living Water International, a nonprofit project that digs wells in the Third World.

. . .

This year, about 491 churches from 10 nations have joined the conspiracy, says Jeanne McKinley, who directs the program from Imago Dei Community with her husband Rick. World Relief, an evangelical mission group, has recruited 500 more churches to participate. About 1,700 individuals have joined on the Internet, she says.



Rick McKinley asks one thing of his co-conspirators--that they donate at least 25 percent of their Christmas savings to clean water projects. The United Nations Development Program estimates that $10 billion a year would help solve the shortage of clean water.


"The church needs to be on the leading edge of solving this problem," he says.

. . .


"We're not asking that you don't spend money on Christmas," McKinley says, "just that you do it with the poor in mind."


Now this is a war on Christmas that I can support!

Read it all here. Hat tip to the Lead for bringing this to my attention.

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