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A guide to the christmas season

"A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes - and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent." -Dietrich Bonhoeffer

KINGDOM COME

What We're Learning About
Advent is the first season in the church calendar and includes the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. It is a time of both patient waiting and discontented longing that fuels our hope in the coming Kingdom of God. Amidst this season where our time feels so scarce, dashing between parties and shopping for gifts, Advent teaches us to watch, to wait, and to hope for the appearance of the King who makes all things new.

November 27 - A Kingdom of Peace
December 4 - A Kingdom of Joy
    Featuring Guest Speaker Dr. Jerry Root, renowned CS Lewis Scholar and Professor at Wheaton College
December 11 - A Kingdom of Hope
December 18 - A Kingdom of Love
December 24 - Christmas Eve - 3pm & 5pm at Bend Senior High
December 25 & January 1 - No Sunday services

ADVENT CONSPIRACY

How We're Living It Out
What if we celebrated Christmas in a way that truly reflected the way God came into the world in Christ? Today Christmas is a story of consumerism, stress, and debt rather than a beautiful story of love, hope, redemption and relationship.

This year we're inviting the Antioch community to enter into the story of Jesus more deeply to help us worship more fully. Originally started by our friends at Imago Dei, Advent Conspiracy is now a global, grassroots movement of people resisting the cultural narrative of consumption by choosing a revolutionary Christmas. The four pillars of the Advent Conspiracy are: Spend Less, Give More, Love All, and Worship Fully.

As part of Advent Conspiracy, Antioch will be hosting an Abundance Swap, an alternative to the holiday shopping season, on December 3rd from 1:30-3pm. Check out the Abundance Swap Guide for information on attending this event. For ideas to give more relationally this holiday season, check out our Relational Giving guide.

 
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ADVENT CONSPIRACY

The Four Pillars

Spend less

READ: Isaiah 58:6-12

DESCRIPTION: Have you considered how rich you are? This may sound strange, but did you know that if you have some band-aids, a little medicine, and purified water you are richer than most of the people in the world? And yet, we still want more. As Christmas roles around, it is easy to be ready with a wish list to get the bigger, or the better, or the best. But that is not the message of Jesus. In fact, Jesus showed up for a different purpose— he came to be with us and tell us a better story! His story has the possibility of changing what we care about, what we hope for, and what we imagine. In short, here's the simplicity of what Jesus says:
• This life is very broken and we all need saving.
• We look for help from things that are not able to rescue us.
• Jesus wants to rescue us— in fact he calls himself our Savior.
• Jesus promises to bring deep peace, joy, and hope if we trust him and live the way he advises.
• Jesus asks us to express our love for God by caring for others, particularly those who are in need. When you spend less on things that are not needed or wanted, you are able to help others who are in need.

We invite you to spend less this holiday season because you see the value in caring for others by using your time, money, and energy to serve others so that people might feel loved by you and by God. Spending less is not a call to stop giving gifts; it's a call to stop spending money on gifts we don't need and won't remember. Spending less means spending differently; it lets us focus on gifts that meet needs, are meaningful, and memorable.

QUESTION FOR REFLECTION: Why has our culture become consumed with giving gifts that are not wanted or needed?

CONSIDER TRYING THIS: A Spending freeze – Take a week and "pause" from spending. Commit to stop buying anything that isn't necessary. Create your own family guidelines here. For example, maybe spending would be allowed only in generosity towards others. Use the tension to help foster a conversation about our true needs as opposed to things we look to for comfort or rescue from the stress of the day. Keep a list of everything you or your family "wants" to buy then, consider these questions: How does it feel to be constricted in your spending? Why? What does this experience reveal about your values?

PRAY: Confess your frustrations as you attempt to spend less, then give thanks for all of the blessings Christ has given you!

Give More

READ: Isaiah 9:6-7, Ephesians 1:3-10

DESCRIPTION: Giving a gift is a great way to express what we think or feel about someone else. It says, "You matter to me!" That is exactly what God did for us— he came to us so that we would know that we matter to him! It's no wonder that we are drawn to the idea of showing our love to friends and family at Christmastime through gift-giving. One of the most powerful, memorable gifts you can give to someone else is yourself—simply by giving your time, energy, and attention.

When Jesus came to us, he gave us a glimpse into his love for us. Imagine it. God—the spinner of galaxies, the commander of angels, the creator of everything we know— left heaven and gave Himself to a very broken place, filled with hurting and angry people, in order to help us all experience his care, and ultimately find our satisfaction in him.

Jesus also invites us to follow him in giving ourselves to a broken and hurting world. The how, what, and why of gift-giving really, really matter to God because he wants us to continue to tell his story through both actions and words. He wants us to give gifts of healing, hope, and goodness—not just another gift that may or may not be wanted. God wants us to use what we have to continue to bring love to a hurting world.

God's lavish love towards us ought to urge us into joyful generosity. Instead of giving a gift to simply "check the box" and move on to the next thing, what might it look like to give more of yourself this Christmas? How might your give more of your time, attention, and resources to your friends and family this holiday season?

QUESTION FOR REFLECTION: What could you do that would really, truly help someone you know?

CONSIDER TRYING THIS: Most people do not need more stuff… but everyone has needs which are very real. Consider giving a gift to help meet a need such as offering to fix something around the house or giving a certificate for free babysitting. What talents do you have that you could share with someone else?

PRAY: Ask the Spirit to help you see the needs of others, and also to give you a generous heart, so that you can participate with God in His message to the world this advent season.

Love all

READ: Psalm 34, Isaiah 61

DESCRIPTION: As we experience the generosity of Christ, we are invited to take notice of others and extend his kindness. Throughout the big story of the Bible, God continually shows us that he notices people who are forgotten. Moses was abandoned, and God noticed. David was the weakest and youngest brother, yet God used him. Mary was destined to be overlooked in a society where women were forgotten, but God used her in a hallmark way! The shepherds were also rather unimportant in society, but the angels revealed God's plan to them. As Jesus began his work, he consistently served people who were outcasts, or deemed unimportant in his society, such as: "the sinners", children, women, the sick, people with disabilities, and different ethnicities.

In his advent, or his coming, Jesus invites his followers— and us!—to take notice of others and choose to care for them in a way that upholds their dignity and expresses God's love for them. The real miracle of Christ is that, because God so loved the world, God so loves us all. It's the love that God has shown us which makes it possible for us to love all. If the life of Jesus truly is good news to all people, then we must show this love to everyone— one person at a time. We challenge you to be purposeful in loving all this advent season!

QUESTION FOR REFLECTION: How can you show love to someone without causing them to feel embarrassed or ashamed of their circumstances?

CONSIDER TRYING THIS: Bundle up and take a walk around your neighborhood or drive around your community. As you do, pray that God would help you notice the needs of strangers so that you can be an expression of God's love. Does anybody seem particularly lonely? Do you notice yard work that was unable to be completed? Do you notice anyone you could serve? If not, ask around and see if there are any needs in your community. How can you show God's love to people in Bend, Oregon? Make a plan of action! Write down your plan, pick a date, and follow through!

PRAY: Confess your frustrations as you attempt to spend less, then give thanks for all of the blessings Christ has given you!

Worship Fully

READ: Psalm 111

DESCRIPTION: It was God's plan to place us in the midst of his wonderful creation in order for us to explore it, enjoy it, steward it, and respond to His creativity. This encounter with God draws us into an expression called worship. We relate back to God through our work and play, rest and pain, hurried chaos and silence. As we begin see Christ in all things, we long to respond to Him.

When Jesus was born, the angels responded in a massive outburst of joy in front of the shepherds. Magi came with a huge caravan from far away to bow down before him. The shepherds left everything and ran to see him for themselves. And for the past two-thousand years, people have been invited to worship God. This year we want to invite you to worship fully.

Christmas is about so much more than a fun day, good parties, and a few new things. It is about our Creator— the King— who came to show us the way home, fill us with his Spirit, and welcome us back into his family. It's a season where we are called to put down our burdens and lift up a song of praise up to our God. It's a season where love wins, peace reigns, and a king is celebrated with each breath. This is the celebration of the year! The story of Advent invites us into a season of overwhelming passion to worship Jesus to the fullest. The hope is that we would use all of the Christmas merriment to remind us of Jesus, and the life he has called us to, as we wait for his return!

QUESTION FOR REFLECTION: In what part of creation does God seem to be near to you?

CONSIDER TRYING THIS: Find a piece of paper and spend ten minutes writing down things you love about the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.

PRAY: Ask God to help you see his goodness in all things and also a desire to respond to him.

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Christmas Eve Services

You are invited to our annual Community Christmas Eve Service at Bend Senior High. Join us for Christmas cookies, a few treasured carols, fun for the whole family, and a message from Pastor Ken Wytsma. Admission is free and seating is first come, first serve. There is no need to buy tickets in advance, though we suggest coming at least 15 minutes early before the 3PM and 5PM services.

Bend Senior High at 3pm & 5pm

Joy Offering

As we strive to make Christmas good news in our own lives, we want to demonstrate this good news by tangibly loving our neighbors. By spending less on gifts and focusing on worshipping God more fully, Antioch's goal is to raise $25,000 to expand ministries at home, in our backyard and around the world. Here's where we will be investing this year's joy offering:

AT HOME: Missional Grant Program, equipping local change

IN OUR BACKYARD: The Voices Project, empowering leaders of color

AROUND THE WORLD: The Sold Project, working to prevent child exploitation and sex trafficking in Thailand

If you are unable to give at the Christmas Eve service, you can also give on Sundays, online or in the mail (255 SW Bluff Dr. 97702). Donations will be accepted through December 31st.

This donation is intended to be separate from your regular year-end giving to Antioch.

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