When Jesus was born to a young unmarried girl in the humble shelter for animals, the people of the first century were unaware of God's reaching out to offer all the people of the world the gift of love.
For the misguided religious leaders as well as the tyrannical rulers, the appearance of the Almighty God was to be marked by fire, intimidation, force and control. God's earthly intervention would be to indict those of opposition and elevate those of divine favor clearly designated by the social, religious and political caste system. These leaders were not watching for God to quietly and subtly emerge into our world. It had to be the big show with all the bells and whistles.
Jesus' birth represented a redefining of greatness and authority that was and still is quite radical. God loved humanity so much that God took on vulnerability so all of humanity could witness what is real, eternal and powerful - LOVE. Security was not to be found in wealth, influence, dominance or force but rather peace was to be experienced through humility, servitude, and trust.
During this Advent season, we are being offered the opportunity to enter into the radical nature of God's presence. God does not appear in the fanfare moments or the viral Youtube videos. God's presence is experienced most fully during the quiet emergence of a person's soul finding value through an act of love. Christmas is not about the decorations, parties or gifts but rather about the quiet but pervasive awakening of love among all of God's people.
In our world today, it is difficult to believe that love is greater than hate and that hope is more resilient than fear but we cannot give into believing that God does not love humanity as much today as God did so long ago. God has plans for good in our world today but it is through those who believe that God so loved the world that he sent his one and only son (John 3:16a). We are to be the presence of God in the world today. We are to be the agents of love and hope!
As a church, we are employing the concept of "conspiracy" to call our attention to how we look for God's presence in our world. Conspiracy is defined as a secret plan or agreement between two or more people to commit a subversive act. What would it mean if the Christian Church became a subversive movement of love? Was this not what Jesus had in mind when he sent his disciples to Jerusalem to await the presence of the Holy Spirit in order to form the first people of faith?
The church is to be a people on the move - a people uniquely equipped to love all of God's people because each has experienced the love of God. Holy Covenant United Methodist Church focuses on what it means to a body of love, grace, affirmation and justice every day of the year. When you give your Advent Conspiracy offering to the church, you participate by providing ministry that reaches out to many to offer hope, acceptance and peace. Through our Advent Conspiracy Campaign we hope to raise enough funds to underwrite our 2016 budget so we can continue to offer food for the hungry, sanctuary for young people, nurture for families, mentoring for youth, care for children and justice for the oppressed on a local, national and international scale.
This Advent and Christmas seasons have given us an opportunity to observe the radical nature of God's gentle and emergent love. When we come together with our tithes, hearts and passions, the world can experience the birth of God anew.