I’ve been thinking a whole lot more in the past year about how to move from discontent with how things are around Christmas and Easter (the mountaintop peaks of the Christian calendar), how commodified the events are, and how we feed them by participating in them even as talk about the “real meaning.” In many ways, the “church” is more complicit in commodifying the holidays than different and non-conformist in our message. Even if we do get a little angry that the greeters at Target don’t say “Merry Christmas” and therefore don’t shop there for Christmas, how many Christians have the guts to do that year-round?
I tend toward cynicism, but as I contemplated how to be the change that I want to see in the world, I happened upon the fine folks at the Advent Conspiracy before Christmastime who have done some great thinking about how we can put into practice ways to act faithfully and give faithfully in preparation for our remembrance of the birth of Christ.
Today I found some folks doing some more of that great subversive thought and action. They go by the name Pentecost Project, and I’ll let them speak for themselves.
The Pentecost Project is an experiment towards a more true and loving economy. Recently, the U.S. Congress passed an economic stimulus package that the President then signed. Beginning in May, most Americans will receive a rebate check that they are being encouraged to go out and spend in order to stimulate America’s sagging economy.
What if, instead of becoming greater consumers, we encouraged people to move towards an even better economy, an economy of abundance? What if, instead of accumulating more stuff, we encouraged people to give things away? What if, instead of the possibility of making a down payment and opening new credit, we encouraged people to pay down their debt?…In this Spirit, we undertake the Pentecost Project: invest in others, share possessions, reduce debt.
Last I checked, that sounds like a good three-week foundation for a series of talks in a church, small group, or some other gathering to guide our thinking beyond the tax break FOR ME (private), to thinking about the tax break FOR US (personal, but within a series of relationships).
In addition, whether your church gives a rip or not, let this drive you to consider, along with me (I’ve already been surprised and convicted by this kind of hopeful thinking), how we can use this unexpected gift to celebrate our abundance by giving it to those truly in need…that and hop on to the chance to thumb our nose at the god of consumerism who expects us to lay down a gift at His altar. It may hurt a little not to be selfish, but it’ll sure feel better over the long term! Seems that Jesus guy had something to say about the life he expects from his disciples that may not feel too good in the short-term, but sure pan out over the long run.