The calendar has given us some margin this year. At least so it seems. With Thanksgiving falling on the earliest day possible, we have the most days possible between the fluid date of Thanksgiving and the fixed date of Christmas. It kind of felt like a week of margin for us all. There hasn’t been the intense pressure to get everything together right away. At least not around my house!

But everything begins in earnest now. December has arrived. There is no turning back. But does that have to be a bad thing? No, it doesn’t.

Over 10 years ago, a few pastors were lamenting how they’d come to the end of another Christmas season exhausted and sensing they’d missed it — the awe-inducing, soul-satisfying mystery of the incarnation.

For many of their people, they were drowning in a sea of financial debt and endless lists of gifts to buy. They struggled to find the connection between our Christmas to-do lists and the story of Jesus’ birth. And they were not alone.

An overwhelming stress had overtaken worship and celebration. The time of year when focusing on Jesus should be the easiest was often the hardest. Somehow, this had become the new normal.

So, in 2006, three pastors, Chris Seay, Greg Holder, and Rick McKinley, decided to try something different. They called it the Advent Conspiracy movement, and came up with four tenets—Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More, Love All—to guide themselves, their families, and congregations through the Christmas season.

The movement started small—just a handful of churches who would try this experiment and make the Christmas story personal again. That first Christmas they got creative, changed their traditions, and ended up raising enough money for a water-well in West Africa.

The news spread quickly, a book was written, videos were created, and along the way a revolution was born. Over the last decade, thousands of churches have celebrated with more relational traditions, partnered with more organizations, and have channeled more resources to the poor, marginalized, and forgotten. Peninsula is one of them.

Advent Conspiracy is about the entire body of Christ at work in the world. As we worship fully, spend less, give more, and love all, something begins to happen that is greater than any single person, church, or denomination. As the Church, we are telling the story of Jesus to the watching world.

It is my prayer is that more churches join together to live out the story of Jesus’ sacrificial love. God is not finished with our world and He is inviting us deeper into the Christmas story. You will find a “menu” in your worship folder with ideas for you to use to bring meaning, simplicity, and joy to the season. We will be explaining a new kind of project for us this year. We’ve built multiple wells around the world because of Advent Conspiracy. We’ve invested in Mercy’s Village and paid for the printing of Bibles for the Waxe (their first and only Bible for their tribe in Papua New Guinea). It’s been a wonderful journey with new steps to be taken this year.

And I just ask one thing of us all:  Conspire with us.