Today is Christmas Sunday; we are down to less than a week until the big day. Are you ready to celebrate the coming of the King? I think I entered this season as most enter this season. Excited about celebrating Christmas, but…ugh…do we have to celebrate Christmas again? It’s a lot of work. Shopping. Wrapping. Decorating. Baking. Being nice all the time. You know what I mean.

But celebrating Christmas with you, my amazing church family, has been a blessing to my life. You encourage me. You help me keep my focus on what’s important during a busy season. Around here it has been a team effort for sure. What do I mean? Well, it all started with Danny Welch’s big ideas in the thematic development and decorating to honor Jesus. Danny and Christina Jaramillo are a great team. The teams pouring in to decorate. Paul Duncan’s careful crafting of our worship moments (just wait for next weekend). The tree lighting. Joanna Nachef’s magic again on display at the amazing concert last Sunday night. The kindness and generosity of our church family toward our missionaries and staff. It’s been a wonderful season already. And we aren’t done.

And then there is Kristen Willard and Rob Sherwin’s suggestion for an Advent Conspiracy project. The playgrounds have touched us all. To be able to provide children escaping the worst this world offers with something that shouts of a God who loves them is an honor. It has touched our hearts. I can tell.

So, this week I did some research. We have tackled 12 Advent Conspiracy projects since 2009. Over the course of those years our goal has been to make Christmas something that changes the world and keeps our eyes on Jesus. We spend a little less on ourselves and invest in something outside our immediate sphere of influence. Only you know if you’ve been changed by that focus. But I do know we have changed the world in many places over the years.

So this week I added up all that you have given to our Advent Conspiracy projects over the years. And, not counting what’s been given this year for the 2021 project, you have given $325,254. That is amazing. I hope your jaw dropped a little. I picked mine up off the floor. Your generosity and your compassion have changed the world: in Gulu and in southern Uganda and Honduras and Papua New Guinea and along the Thai/Burma border and in Laos and in the Coachella Valley and now among Christian orphanages in Thailand. And then there’s that house for the Ojeras.

Thank you for listening to God.  Have yourself a very merry Christmas. I love you.