Archive for Hagar International

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!