This year our church is doing something radically different for Christmas. We're taking part in a movement called "Advent Conspiracy". We are committed this Christmas to giving presence, instead of just presents, to worshiping God fully and being more alive to the miracle of His presence with us, to spending less but giving more and to loving all.
We are committed this Christmas to "entering the story", the story of Christ' advent, His gracious coming to us. As we give to others we celebrate that God did not hold Himself aloof but came close to us as "Immanuel, God with Us!". We join our hands and feet and lives in demonstrating that "God came near" as we give in creative ways to God, our loved ones and friends, and those in need.
Today we kicked off this series. As people entered we gave them water bottles to take home and collect their change in to donate to Living Water International, an organization that digs fresh water wells in countries that do not have clean drinking water. We have adopted the country of Sierra Leone and the money we collect will go 100% to dig wells in that country and provide not only fresh drinking water but also exposure to "the Living Water", our Savior Jesus. This offering is above and beyond tithes and we pray God will use what we are able to give in a powerful way. I'm so excited! This "conspiracy" has already changed how we view Christmas.
Here's what we did today: As people entered we gave them a bottle of water. We wanted to remind them of the amazing fact that we have drinking water easily available to us and do not fear becoming ill or dying from drinking our water. We asked them to take the bottles home after they drank the water and to collect their change in it and use it for their offering bank. We will collect the offering up until Dec. 21st.
Countdown Video: From the Advent Conspiracy Site - "Enter the Story" - you can watch the video here.
1. Forever by Chris Tomlin - we followed this with a moment of quiet reflection of God's faithfulness to us.
2. Made Me Glad by Miriam Webster - people really connected to this one today.
3. From the Inside Out - Hillsong United - I used Romans 12:1-2 to set this up.
4. Open the Eyes of My Heart - Baloche
Sermon - Richard did a powerful job of challenging us to celebrate differently this year.
Video - "How AC Can Change Your Life" - you can watch the video here. (scroll down the page)
Closing Song: "Everlasting God" by Brenton Brown - a reminder once again that God does not faint or grow weary and never changes - He is always faithful.
The 9:00 am crowd was very low but 10:45 was good and energetic. I've found that it can be harder for me to lead worship when it is quieter. This morning, it was wonderful to hear the voices raised in worship, particularly as they sang out the words from "Made Me Glad": "You are my shield, my strength, my portion, deliverer, My shelter, strong tower, my very present help in time of need." They also really sang out the declaration from "Everlasting God" - "You are the Everlasting God, the Everlasting God, you do not faint, you won't grow weary. You're the defender of the weak, you comfort those in need, you lift us up on wings like eagles...." It was really beautiful! I just wanted to keep on singing!
- check out one way I'm celebrating differently this year here. I hope you'll spread the word!
So how was your Sunday?
(this post is a part of "Sunday Setlists" over at FredMcKinnon.Com)