Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Advent Conspiracy: Love All

We've talked about worshipping fully, spending less and giving more this Advent season...but what does it look like to love all?  If we are truly living in to God's calling on our lives, we will not only make it a point to spend time and do something special for our family and friends this Christmas.  We will also spread God's love to those we don't know...those who are often considered "the least of these" (see Matthew 25:31-46).  Before going up to watch the children's musical, we thought together of various ways we could  love all not just this Christmas, but into next year.  We brainstormed many local and global ideas of ways we could meet needs in our own community and around the world.  Then we decided on one local project and one global project we were going to commit to as the youth of Farmville United Methodist Church in the coming year!  The youth decided as a local project they wanted to fix some warm meals for those in need.  And as a global project, they want to collect and donate kids clothing and shoes for children in need around the world.  We will spend time after the new year working on details on how we are going to spread God's love in these ways!  I am so proud of our youth.  They are passionate faith filled teenagers that really want to make a difference in this world.  They jump at opportunities to do mission work and consistently share God's love with those around them.  They have embraced this Advent Conspiracy and are thinking about how they can "do Christmas" differently this year.  I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas.  May God bless you and your family, and may you share that blessing with everyone you see.  Peace!

A few pictures from the Children's Christmas Musical: Silent Night, Holy Mice!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Advent Conspiracy: Spend Less & Give More

Christmas has turned into a lot of this: Consumerism.  We easily fall into the trap of worshipping during Christmas by buying a lot of stuff.  Stuff that is often pretty impersonal and ends up in a closet, attic, or garage shortly after the hype of Christmas is over.  This Advent season, our youth are thinking about ways that we can celebrate the real reason for the season: the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ!

We've all received impersonal gifts in our lives...that fruitcake from your neighbor, the t-shirt that immediately goes in the pile to give to goodwill, or maybe that book that you know you will never read.  I'm willing to bet, though, that you've probably been the giver of some of these impersonal gifts as well.  That co-worker that you just feel obligated to get something for or your crazy Aunt who you never know what to get.  Impersonal gifts are just so easy!  No time or energy goes in to them.  They are convenient.  And often, they are exactly the things that the stores and TV commercials and advertisements try to persuade you to buy.

But what if Christmas looked differently?  What if we started spending less on the impersonal stuff that doesn't mean anything to anyone (giver or receiver), and started giving more in ways that please God, share God's love with others and mean something to both the giver and the receiver?  What might that look like?

Well maybe it would look like buying a chicken or a pig through World Vision to help a family in need and purchasing it in honor of one of your family members.  Maybe it would look like spending time with a friend or family member that could really use the company this holiday season.  Maybe it would look like creating a photo album of favorite pictures of you and the recipient.  Whatever it looks like, it's probably going to cost you in time and energy, but isn't that what God calls us to?  God doesn't ask us to buy each other stuff.  God asks us to be present with one another, to reconcile broken relationships, to be in community with one another, and to serve one another.

And God calls us to go beyond our own families and friends to share God's love with everyone all around the world!  What might that look like?  On Sunday night, the youth drew pictures of what God's love might look like to give to kids living on the streets in Uganda, Africa.

As you prepare your hearts for Christmas this Advent season, I challenge you to re-think the way you will do Christmas this year.  How might you give relationally rather than impersonally?  How might you spread the love of God this Christmas by spending less and giving more?  Enter the Christmas story, and spread the good news that God sent his son to live among us and truly be Immanuel, God with us!

Don't forget to register for the Farmville District Youth Retreat by this Friday, December 16th at noon!  The retreat is January 6-8th at Blackstone Conference and Retreat Center for youth in grades 7-12.  Contact me if you need a copy of the registration forms!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

High School Conference Retreat

We had a blast at the high school conference retreat at Eagle Eyrie this year!  We ate good food, worshipped with a great speaker and band, packed over 800 hygiene kits, had some awesome small group time, made new friends and played some great games!  Check it out: