Archive for Advent Generosity

Advent Generosity: Be the Light

Advent is arguably the busiest time of the year. Too often we become wrapped up in the trappings of Christmas, and it is a challenge as Christians to make time to prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ. As Adam Hamilton writes in Not a Silent Night, our Advent worship and study book, “Our mission at Christmas is not to get stuff for people to open on Christmas morning. It is to be people of hope who let Jesus’ light shine through them.”

Advent Generosity invites the LAUMC community to share God’s love and grace by making monetary gifts to three worthy causes and—new this year—by participating in service (see service opportunities below). Embracing Advent Generosity this Christmas provides a simple yet effective way to “Be the Light.” Our gifts to Advent Generosity represent our desire to share our love for others by performing acts of kindness, compassion, and goodness. Adam Hamilton tells us, “Grace changes the one who receives it, and it also changes the one who gives it.” We are invited this Advent season to “Be the Light” by emulating Jesus.

Support These Causes

Consider donating to LAUMC’s Advent Generosity campaign on behalf of your friends and family. Or, ask family and friends to make a donation in your honor instead of purchasing a gift for you. By making one donation to Advent Generosity 2016, three worthy programs will be supported:

  • Hope’s Corner, Inc.: Hope’s Corner, Inc., provides weekly meals and showers to people in need in the Mountain View area. Advent Generosity 2016 giving will help Hope’s Corner expand its food service, twice-weekly shower program, and additional services for more than 250 weekly guests.
  • Compassion Week 2017: Compassion Week provides LAUMC congregants and community members an opportunity to put our faith in action by performing acts of service. Compassion Week 2016 involved more than 2,000 volunteers addressing poverty, homelessness, education, hunger, the environment, and more.
  • UMCOR International Disaster Risk Reduction (Advance #3021952): This disaster risk reduction program is designed to prepare for and mitigate both death and economic loss and to facilitate community recovery following common natural disasters. The World Bank estimates that each $1 invested in risk management yields between $2 and $11 in benefits/cost savings in the event of a disaster.

Service Opportunities

  • Project WeHOPE: On December 22, LAUMC will host a Christmas dinner at Project WeHOPE. Those who sign up will facilitate dinner services, and share a holiday dinner with brothers and sisters who are working to end their homelessness. Project WeHOPE is a nonprofit organization in East Palo Alto that provides overnight shelter, food, financial literacy, and other services to clients in its transitional program. Dignity on Wheels, the mobile hygiene and outreach program, provides showers and laundry to people living in encampments, rotating shelters, and out of their vehicles. To sign up to help with the dinner, contact Jan McDaniel. Space is limited.
  • Hope’s Corner: Another option for serving our community as part of Advent Generosity is to volunteer with Hope’s Corner. Volunteers help prepare and serve meals, clean up, or check in shower guests. Visit the Hope’s Corner website for more information about volunteer opportunities and to sign up.

Pick up an Advent Generosity envelope in the Sanctuary, Creekside, or the church office starting November 20. When you choose not to buy an unnecessary gift or decide to forgo a Christmas related goodie, place the money you save in the envelope. Return your envelope to the church office or place it in the offering plate by Christmas Eve. Alternatively, you could make your Advent Generosity donation online. Also, please use the provided gift cards to let your family and friends know you have made a donation to Advent Generosity 2016 and/or have performed a service on their behalf.

This Christmas, choose a radical approach to giving, and your celebration of Christ’s birth. Together, let’s worship fully, give more, spend less, and love all through our Advent Generosity giving. If you have questions about Advent Generosity, please contact Valarie Arnesen.

Advent Generosity: Unclutter Christmas

Advent Tradition

Six years ago Los Altos United Methodist Church started changing the way we celebrate Christmas. During the holiday season we practice extravagant generosity by making gifts to specific missions in addition to giving to our church. We can continue the Advent Generosity tradition this year and Worship Fully, Give More, Spend Less, and Love All this Christmas.

By doing so, we can “unclutter Christmas,” as Beth Richardson encourages in our Advent book, The Uncluttered Heart. Advent is often the busiest time of the year, and it is a challenge as Christians to make time and space to prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ. As the Christmas season approaches, we have the opportunity to reconsider and unclutter the way we approach this most holy of seasons, making space for the arrival of the Christ child.

Invitation

Participating in Advent Generosity is one way to shower love on others in honor of Christ’s birth. Instead of being consumed by the exhausting decorating and preparations, the chaotic clutter of shopping, spending, buying, and wrapping gifts that many of us don’t need, we can instead choose to devote our time to worshipping fully and use our money toward loving all. In addition to our regular giving to Los Altos UMC for our vital ministries, participating in Advent Generosity supports programs that exhibit God’s love to those who need it most.

Please consider donating to the Advent Generosity 2015 programs as a gift to friends and family. Making one donation supports three worthy programs in our community and the world:

hope's corner logoHope’s Corner, Inc., Capital Campaign: Hope’s Corner provides weekly healthy meals and showers to people in need in the Mountain View area. Advent Generosity gifts will go toward building a commercial kitchen on site to expand Hope’s Corner’s food service. Visit the Hope’s Corner page for more information.

Compassion Week logoCompassion Week 2016: Compassion Week provides church and community members with an opportunity to put their faith in action by addressing poverty, education, homelessness, hunger, the environment, and more. Advent Generosity funds will purchase supplies for these activities. Visit the Compassion Week page for more information.

UMCORUMCOR Gifts of Hope: Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene: Around 884 million people lack adequate access to water. More than 2.5 billion people lack basic sanitation. Through the United Methodist Committee on Relief (Advance #3020600), Advent Generosity gifts will supply the life-giving gift of water, sanitation, and hygiene education to people around the world. Visit UMCOR’s project page for more information.

How to Participate

Pick up an Advent Generosity 2015 envelope in the Sanctuary, Creekside, or the church office to collect the money you save by not buying unneeded/unwanted gifts. Then return the filled envelope to the church office or place it in the offering plate on or before Christmas Eve. You can also donate online.donate online button

If you want to want to make a gift donation on someone’s behalf, cards are enclosed in the collection envelope that you can fill out and give to them to let them know what you have done. Doing so can help unclutter the Christmas season for both of you! More gift cards are available if you have a long list of recipients.

Invite a Friend to Give in Your Name

As you unclutter your Christmas and focus on preparing for the birth of Christ, consider contacting someone who usually gives you a gift and let them know that you would like to work together with them to redirect the money that they would have spent on a gift for you to Advent Generosity instead, to help feed the hungry, put faith into action, and provide clean water. You will be uncluttering your own life and Christmas celebration and, in the process, inviting someone who cares about you to join you in making a difference for others in need.

This Christmas, let’s choose to unclutter our expectations, our preparations, and our celebration of Christ’s birth through Advent Generosity giving. Together, let’s unclutter our Christmas season and Worship Fully. Give More. Spend Less. And Love All.

Advent Generosity Results Top $100k

The Los Altos UMC finance office reports we raised a preliminary total of $101,155 in Advent Generosity donations this Christmas season—thank you for helping us break through the $100,000 mark! We also saw an increase from last year’s giving of nearly $11,000.

The message of this year’s “Christmas Is Not Your Birthday” Advent Generosity campaign to worship fully, spend less, give more, love all and let go inspired an amazing response throughout Advent. At our five Christmas Eve services, for the third year, the entire offering went to the Advent Generosity campaign.

The donated funds will be divided among four organizations: Hope’s Corner, Compassion Week, Homeboy Industries, and Hagar International. Thank you to all who participated.

Advent Generosity: A Different Approach to Christmas

As the Rev. Mike Slaughter writes in Christmas Is Not Your Birthday, “Christmas is a celebration of a miracle, but we’ve edged the miracle worker out of his own birthday. It is time to take it back by planning new traditions that focus on Jesus’ presence, rather than the often-forgettable presents we expect to receive” (page 5).

Advent Conspiracy Is Now Advent Generosity

Four years ago, Los Altos United Methodist Church started a new tradition at Christmas time called Advent Conspiracy. This year, we are again given the chance to grow our spiritual practice of generosity by embracing a new twist on the vision of Advent Conspiracy, which we are now calling Advent Generosity: Worship Fully, Give More, Spend Less, Love All, and Let Go. As the Christmas season approaches, it’s time to Let Go of the exhausting preparations, the chaotic clutter of shopping, spending, and buying stacks of gifts that most of us don’t need. We can transform our focus on receiving into a focus on giving what Jesus would want. “Feed the hungry, invite in the stranger, clothe the naked, care for the sick, visit the imprisoned” (Matthew 25:31-36).

LAUMC is offering a simple way to Let Go this Christmas and put Jesus back in the center of our celebration. Throughout Advent, we suggest that you spend less so that you can worship fully and give more to honor the One whose birthday we celebrate at Christmas. Instead of buying unneeded gifts for everyone on your list, donate on behalf of your friends or family to our Advent Generosity campaign. By making one donation, you will be supporting four worthy organizations in our community and the world. The four organizations/programs are:

Hope’s Corner provides weekly, healthy meals to people in need in the Mountain View area in a warm, friendly and supportive environment. Funds will go toward renovating the kitchen and bathrooms. Learn more here.

Compassion Week 2015 will provide LAUMC congregants and friends with an opportunity to worship through volunteer service in a variety of areas, including poverty, homelessness, education, hunger, the environment, and many more. Funds raised will purchase supplies for these activities. Learn more here.

Homeboy Industries serves high-risk, formerly gang-involved young men and women in Los Angeles with numerous services and social enterprises with the objective of sharing compassion and God’s love to restore lives and build community. Learn more here.

Hagar International restores to wholeness the lives of women and children in Afghanistan, Cambodia, and Vietnam who have been torn apart by human rights abuse. Hagar walks the whole journey of protection, recovery, empowerment, and integration with each individual. Learn more here.

To participate, pick up an Advent Generosity envelope at the church office, in the Sanctuary, or in Creekside Center. Put the money you save by not buying unneeded/unwanted gifts in the envelope and return your envelope to the church office or place it in the offering plate by Christmas Eve. (The offering collected during all of our Christmas Eve services will also go to these four programs.) Fill out a gift card for each person you are honoring in this way to give to them for Christmas, letting them know you have made a donation in their behalf. Two gift cards are included in the envelope, and more gift cards are available if you have a long list!

Invite a Friend to Participate in Your Behalf

As you Let Go this Christmas, decide that you will give one of your Christmas gifts to Jesus for His birthday. Choose someone who usually gives you a gift, and talk to them before Christmas. Use an Advent Generosity gift card to let them know that you would like to work together with them to redirect the money that they would have spent on a gift for you to instead feed the hungry, or welcome a stranger, or care for the sick. You will be letting go of that gift and, in the process, inviting someone who cares about you to join you in your practice of Extravagant Generosity, and impact others in need.

This Christmas, experience the peace of knowing that God is truly with us, the joy of giving sacrificially, and the love of a Savior who gave everything he had for us. Let Go of the old ways you have celebrated Christmas and be transformed in the process. Together, let’s Worship Fully. Give More. Spend Less. Love All. And Let Go.

Merry Christmas!