Saturday, December 1, 2007

What Would Jesus Buy?

Hello, Decembrists!

Welcome to "the time between". I'll explain that in a minute.

We just returned from Cinema 21 on NW 21st Avenue in Portland. We saw what likely will be the only local engagement of the documentary film What Would Jesus Buy?, produced by Morgan Spurlock. Mr. Spurlock (who gave us Supersize Me in 2004) was at church last Sunday and was interviewed by Pastor Rick. It was certainly one of the kairos timing events of God's own doing. Spurlock decided to make the film after meeting Reverend Billy of the Church of Stop Shopping. The film is a documentary of Reverend Billy's campaign to get people to give up the madness of Christmas buying and indebtedness, giving instead loving, relational gifts to family and friends. Gifts that cost nothing, or almost. Priceless!

The film begins with the Reverend Billy's arrest at Times Square in NYC when he and his Stop Shopping Gospel Choir simply urge people to stop shopping. From there it chronicles our absurd addiction to buying as the campaign crisscrosses the country enroute to the Promised Land of Disneyland. Yes, there is a stop in Bentonville, Arkansas! And you won't forget the purchase of the sweater at the small clothing store in Traer, Iowa. I hope you never do.

This year we Americans are projected to spend somewhere around 450-460 billion dollars on Christmas as we buy goods with money many of us do not have, goods that are almost entirely NOT made here.

450 billion dollars... or more... this year... Great film!

(Thought. No wonder fiscal responsibility at the federal level is anything but. We tolerate it because it looks like the personal fiscal affairs of many American households. Chicken and egg thing? No, more like a deadly virus.)

Kairos timing. Sunday was also the day Pastor Rick and the Imago Dei Community kicked off the Advent Conspiracy for 2007. This is the campaign to reduce or not buy commercial gifts and instead put the money into changing the world. Last year's campaign raised over $110,000 locally. Part of the change in the world from that $110K came in the form of 11 water wells for 11 communities in Liberia where health problems and mortality are at levels unimaginable to us. In many communities the children are not even named until they have survived at least two years. Until then, many are not considered viable enough to have a name. In some communities, 100% of the people have guinea worms, a waterborne parasite that has a horrific and disfiguring life cycle in the human body.

A representative of Living Water International was interviewed after Morgan Spurlock. This young man brought pictures and stories of the people Imago Dei helped last year. How to describe the sheer joy of people who have been given access to clean, safe water for the first time in their people's entire history?

Pastor Rick said that for about $10 billion, clean and safe water could be brought to every person on earth who doesn't have it now. In the USA we just spent half that amount on Halloween. We will spend 45 times that much on Christmas this year.

Last year Imago Dei and four other churches started Advent Conspiracy. This year over 500 churches have signed up to join the Imago Dei effort and another 500+ have gotten the idea and pledged their efforts directly to Living Water International.

Ponder the implications of that change in the world brought about by a simple change in thinking and change in spending. Ponder as you continue reading about this in-between time we call Christmas.

A Time Between

Christmas is a time between
It's not yet the New Year, nor really the old
It's pre-income tax, it's post-Halloween
It's long before springtime. It's winter. It's cold.

Christmas is a time for joy. And peace. And love.
We save these all for one brief day
For the time between designed to remove
The burden of failure, of losing our way.

"Give love for Christmas this year!" by the sign
in the store I am told.
How much it will cost? How long it will wear?
Am I too late? Am I too old?

"Sorry! We're all out of love this Christmas...
Come back next year when it's sold."
But it's long before springtime. It's winter.
I'm cold. --R.F.

That's how I felt about commercial Christmas before Advent Conspiracy.

So, what would Jesus buy? He didn't come only to save the world. He came to change it, to shake up and turn upside-down its very foundations. I think Jesus would buy Advent Conspiracy. I think he'd buy it big time. Kind of thing he gave his life for. Big time.

Blessed Advent! Conspire big time!

Pastor Roger

PS Wanna get your church (or non-church) group into the Advent Conspiracy business? Go to or and click on Advent Conspiracy to learn more and get started.

PPS If an Advent Conspiracy can do this much, imagine what a 24/7 Conspiracy could do.
Jesus had another name for it: kingdom of God.

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