Sunday, December 07, 2008

Conspire--A Word That Can Change Christmas



• I wonder how many of you as kids or parents have had the talk—Christmas isn’t going to be as big this year. These words of small Christmas are spoken when a person has a consumer mentality of Christmas.
• Today as we enter week two of our Advent Conspiracy, I want to show you how to make Christmas big every year for the rest of your life. How to accumulate things that really matter and not junk.
• Back to Genesis to make Xmas big. God created the world and all in it, and said it was all good.
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."
• God made us to be like him, and gave us everything we needed in this world, and made man and woman King and Queen to rule together over God’s world. Then Satan came with a lie.
• The temptation and fall for men and women is for us to become discontent with God’s blessing and want the KINGDOM OF MORE instead of the KINGDOM OF GOD.
• What caused Adam and Eve to fall, and what causes God’s people ever since to fall away from God into sin is to become obsessed with getting what God has not given us.
• That was the story of God’s people leaving Egypt as well. Delivered from slavery and oppression and on the way to the promise of a land of their own.
• There God would give them a land where they could be free people to worship God, land filled with plenty, they became obsessed with what God had not given them on their journey.
• Even though everyday, bread from heaven would just show up supernaturally to give them all the food they needed on their journey to the promised land, they became obsessed with what they did not have.
• They wanted meat, and throw in a little garlic and some vegetable salad too God.
• Americans are like this. We have so much, but what a re we concerned about? The STUFF we do not have.
• In the KINGDOM OF MORE, we are told a lie too. If you can just get the stuff you don’t have, the stuff that the Jones’s next door have, then you will have that life you always wanted.
• Right now, commercials; emails; texts ads are all coming at you with lies from the same source that Adam and Eve were tempted.
• OK. STOP. Right there, some of you are going to think, wow—Fr. Kevin is going Scrooge. I see where this is going. He is going to go activist and give us preacher rant about not letting the commercial consumer Christmas steal the truth that Jesus is the reason for the season, etc.
• Now, let me tell you right up front, I like getting gifts, especially things I needed or wanted, and especially when they are the right size, color, or brand I wanted 
• I do confess, there are some gifts that make me want to rant. Have you ever noticed how much junk shows up in stores—especially dollar stores—this time of year? If I can rant, please don’t rationalize giving people useless stuff they will only throw away saying “Self, feel good about giving the dollar store your money for junk people are going to throw away after getting it because it’s the thought that counts! They’ll appreciate and like you because of the thought.”
• It is the word driving this whole Advent series—CONSPIRE. 2: to act in harmony toward a common end circumstances conspired to defeat his efforts
• The second Sunday of Advent is the Sunday of PEACE/SHALOM. At Christmas, Jesus came to bring peace on earth and good news for mankind.
• When Jesus was born, the Romans were in power. This is the background to Advent. They were the Empire that dominated the world like America has been since WWII.

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

• A little background to the Jesus story. Octavian, the adopted son of Julius Caesar was in power at the time Advent angels started appearing to Joseph and Mary from 27BC to AD 14.
• Octavian said that since his father was a god, he was the son of God. There were prophesies that the son of god would bring peace to the whole earth, so Octavian changed his name to Augustus.
• This was a religious title of divinity meaning the illustrious one. He saw his divine mission to bring peace to the world as the son of God.
• If you look at Roman coins form the time of Augustus Caesar, they say things like:
o Salvation is found in none other save Augustus.
o There is no other name given to men by which they can be saved.
o Caesar is Lord.
• So into that world, Jesus was born to bring real peace. The world will always offer one type of peace, and then Jesus comes offering us a peace that is sourced in heaven—the realm of God not of this world.
• The early Church all acted in harmony together toward a common purpose of saying that the only name and true salvation that could bring peace was that Jesus is Lord, not Caesar.
• Shalom or peace is a state of being where everything it put right. It results in a sense of wellness.
• Christians since the beginning say real peace only comes when Jesus, not Caesar is Lord of your life.
• I am not proposing we become Scrooge. I am proposing we conspire together to change how juts our family does Christmas. Maybe it will catch on like church did in the Roman Empire.
• The world’s merchants tell us hyper-spending and consuming is the altar of worship where you will find happiness. Spend your cash and all your credit cards the banks were readily supplying for the cause—notice—were past tense.
• The message of the KINGDOM OF MORE—getting stuff is going to make you happy. Foreclosed?
• In America we think buying things will cure everything. Lose a boyfriend or job, shopping is the cure. Getting new things is what will make you feel new. It doesn’t last though.
• In fact, even a Skymall on planes to sell you junk at 600% markup to cure you!
• Get beauty, sex, fame, education, money, bigger better houses and you will be somebody, you will have influence, you will be happy.
• Nothing wrong with any of these when received from God used as he intends. HOWEVER…
• When we get obsessed with wanting these things or suing them in ways God does not want for us, and we arrange our whole life thinking these things will satisfy us—God is going to destroy these false gods and altars of worship to set people free from the lie of THE KINGDOM OF MORE.
• A shocker—in a deep recession, a housing and credit crisis—the KINGDOM OF MORE IS IMPLOSING… Guess how much money economists forecast will be spent on THE KINGDOM OF MORE in 2008? $475 Billion. 50% of people still paying off last year’s Xmas credit cards!
• A couple passages and I am going to end.

Isa. 55:2 Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.

Luke 10:1After this the Lord appointed seventy-two[a] others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2He told them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road. 5"When you enter a house, first say, 'Peace to this house.'

• Let me pull this all together now. Adam and Eve conspired with Satan to invade the Kingdom of God with the Kingdom of More.
• When Jesus was born, the Kingdom of God invaded the Kingdom of More and challenged the false gods of this world like Caesar who promised a false kind of peace.
• When Jesus came, look how he told his foot soldiers of peace to invade the Kingdom of more.
• Go to every town and place with the message of real peace. AND TAKE NO PURSE, OR BAG, OR SANDALS.
• He was saying, it is not going to take a lot of money, or expensive luggage or shoes, you don’t need $3000 suits to do it.
• In fact, the way the Kingdom of God will invade the Kingdom of More is not by being obsessed with accumulating the stuff the world has that doesn’t matter, but getting less of that and accumulating things that really matter. He called those things treasure in heaven.
• SELAH. STOP AND THINK NOW. LISTEN TO YOUR HEART. What thoughts are coming to your mind? What is Jesus saying in there?
• Here is the CONSPIRACY. Pray. If you are a family, start having a conversation about what God is saying to us. As a church—if you can’t feed 1000 people feed just one—that’s our prophecy.
• The Empire of More is calling out. They are obsessed with getting things to make them feel new and happy. Jesus says “NO, you don’t need more. You need less.” Not $17B in makeup. Not $10B in perfume. Let’s talk about WWJB. It is the new thing. Not just WWJD.
• Morgan Spurlock who made the McDonald’s expose “Super Size Me” has a new message “What would Jesus buy.” Rev. Billy is warning everyone in Times Square about the Shop-ocalypse yelling STOP SHOPPING. The Shop-Ocalypse happened in September and October.
• Here is the Advent Conspiracy message. Less is more. I am not saying don’t have Christmas or buy gifts. I am saying don’t get sucked into buying useless things and think that will make you feel new or make you or someone else feel happy giving or receiving those kinds of things.
• $10B would give clean water to the whole world. $19B would feed all the world’s hungry. Our nation wants to spend $34 billion on automakers and $700B on banks to prop up the Kingdom of more. It’s time we focus not on CNBA but on the pulpit on Sunday for useful things.
• Story—parents with 2 kids. Son makes it real big and has everything. Your daughter did not do well. Doesn’t have enough food. No good schools. Poor roads out where she lives. You as the father or mother as your son to help but he won’t.
• As Xmas, God the Father looks on us and asks us to sacrifice to help those in need.
• St. Francis heard the call and gave everything including the clothes off his back. Not what I ask.
• I ask, think about an Angel Tree Kid. Sponsor a child from Compassion International. Give to Helping Hands. How about giving each other gifts of time together? How about we conspire to not buy useless junk at dollar stores…Help one family in need; or one child without clean water, or a school, or roads where they live.
• God’s Kingdom will fill you with peace, joy, love, and, hope when you accumulate less of the Kingdom of more and give away the Kingdom of God.

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