Here are my notes…
The Advent Conspiracy is a commitment/decision to do Christmas differently/more significantly.
Jeff is asking that we buy 1 less gift and give the money that would have been spent to Chase Oak’s global mission fund.
The emotionally powerful message about the house fire and the nativity scene, remind me that I need to be thankful if Christ is all I have. Christ is All!
Can you think of 3 presents you received last Christmas? I could, but it was hard to make sure all 3 were from last year.
Can you think of 3 presents you received from your childhood?
The point of these questions being that presents are a poor communicator (currency) of love/meaning. They don’t have any staying power.
A better currency is presence, time, and shared experience.
Jesus came to give the gift of eternal life. He did it slowly. He gave us the gift of presence.
John 1 — Jesus is the eternal, creator God.
Christmas celebrates Christ taking on humanity (John 1:14). Jeff noted dwelt equals pitched a tent. This ties back to Exodus.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Dwelt is the same word as tabernacled (pitched a tent) in Exodus 25:8.
— From my study on the Incarnation of Christ.
In the Incarnation, God’s Glory was on display. As the second Adam, Christ came and lived the perfect, obedient life that we cannot (Romans 5).
Jesus and Zacchaeus
In Luke 19, we find the story of Jesus and Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus was changed by the gift of presence. More importantly, Zacchaeus was given the gift of saving faith (Ephesians 2:8-9) as Christ came seeking after him (Luke 19:9-10).
Martha and Mary
Next, Jeff retold the story of Martha and Mary in Luke 10:38-42. Martha was doing good things, but she missed the best thing. Mary was doing the best thing, enjoying the presence of Jesus.
So in a real sense, Martha’s feelings were natural and somewhat understandable. That may be one reason Jesus’ rebuke was so mild. In normal circumstances, any older sister would think it obligatory for the younger sister to help in serving a meal to guests. In other words, what Martha expected Mary to do was, in itself, perfectly fine and good.
Nevertheless, what Mary was doing was better still. She had “chosen the good part” (Luke 10:42). She had discovered the one thing needful: true worship and devotion of her heart and full attention to Christ. That was a higher priority even than service, and the good part she had chosen would not be taken away from her, even for the sake of something as gracious and beneficial as helping Martha prepare Jesus a meal. Mary’s humble, obedient heart was a far greater gift to Christ than Martha’s well-set table.
This establishes worship as the highest of all priorities for every Christian. Nothing, including even service rendered to Christ, is more important than listening to Him and honoring Him with our hearts. Remember what Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well: God is seeking true worshipers (John 4:23). Christ had found one in Mary. He would not affirm Martha’s reprimand of her, because it was Mary, not Martha, who properly understood that worship is a higher duty to Christ than service rendered on His behalf.
It is a danger, even for those of us who love Christ, that we not become so concerned with doing things for Him that we begin to neglect hearing Him and remembering what He has done for us. Never allow your service for Christ to crowd out your worship of Him! The moment our works become more important to us than our worship, we have turned true spiritual priorities on their heads.
In fact, that tendency is the very thing that is so poisonous about all forms of pietism and theological liberalism. Whenever you elevate good deeds over sound doctrine and true worship, you ruin the works too. Doing good works for the works’ sake has a tendency to exalt self and depreciate the work of Christ. Good deeds, human charity, and acts of kindness are crucial expressions of real faith, but they must flow from a true reliance on God’s redemption and His righteousness.
Rich in Stuff, Poor in Relationships
Jeff challenged us to inject presence into our presents. To carve out time for God and for relationships with others.