I am excited that once again the Bayshore family is producing its annual Christmas devotional guide. When you receive your free copy you will notice that the theme this year is a little different. We’re calling it “God’s Conspiracy,” a theme that raised more than a few eyebrows (and questions) among those who were asked to provide entries! What in the world is God’s Conspiracy?
Well, I’ll let the devotional entries spell it out in more detail over the month of December, but essentially it means this: The Advent/Christmas story tells of how the Triune Godhead has conspired to win this world back to Himself. And in true conspiratorial fashion He has done it in a way that subverts or undermines the world’s normal way of doing things. Nobody in their right mind would expect that a helpless baby born in a cow stall would be Almighty God’s chosen way of redeeming the world. But it was, and those who were open to having their vision of the world adjusted were able to see it.
This Advent season we will seek to participate in that conspiracy. Taking my cue from an online movement called Advent Conspiracy, I’ll be preaching a series of sermons designed to help us adjust our own vision of the world so that we might experience the Christmas story more fully, with more joy and less stress. Over the four Sundays of Advent we’ll talk about Worshipping Fully, Spending Less, Giving More, and Loving All. The goal will be to steer our focus away from the consumerism of the season and back to the profound love that God has poured out on us. (You can visit adventconspiracy.org for more information on this movement.)
As a way of giving shape to that desire we will take a special offering at the Christmas Eve service for the ministry of Karen Alford, Bayshore’s missionary to Indonesia. Karen’s work involves providing medical care, education, community development, and spiritual counsel to the people of the Mentawi Islands, a remote place that is often ignored by the Indonesian government. Karen shares the love of Jesus Christ through basic acts of service, and it is our privilege to share in her work. Bayshore is Karen’ primary means of support, and the Christmas offering is the single biggest contribution we make each year, so I am challenging us to collect a total $9000 for her, an increase of roughly $1000 over last year’s offering. The offering will culminate on Christmas Eve, but any gift you make during the month of December will count towards that goal.
The season of Advent has a long and complex history dating back to at least the fourth century, but through all its twists and turns it essentially developed as a season of preparation – a time to get ready for what God is doing. And that is so for one simple reason: if we aren’t ready, we’ll miss it. God’s ways are not like the world’s ways, so if we have not made the effort to prepare ourselves there is the chance the Christmas story could pass us by.
Let’s not let that happen. Join us as we conspire together!
Grace and peace,