Grace Episcopal to conspire for Advent
A conspiracy is afoot at Grace Episcopal Church in Jamestown this holiday season, but it's not about ruling the world.
Instead, the Advent Conspiracy is all about taking back Christmas by spending less, giving more, worshiping fully and loving all people.
"I hope they can get folks to get back to the meaning of Advent and Christmas... and kind of remember what the whole season is about," said the Rev. Kevin Goodrich, pastor at Grace.
The Advent Conspiracy is a national grassroots movement involving more than 1,000 churches in 17 countries. Its theme is that Christmas can still change the world.
Advent, the historic beginning of the Christian year and the season centered on preparing for the arrival of Christ, begins Sunday.
The Christmas shopping season has already begun.
"There's a lot of consumerism and a lot of craziness and stress," Goodrich said. "How do I get back to a simpler observance of Advent?"
Grace Episcopal Church will "conspire" through its Sunday sermons and a book study on the Advent Conspiracy. Services are at 10:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday.
The church is also challenging its members to volunteer in the community, giving fruit baskets to those in need, caroling at Rock of Ages and collecting items for people at the North Dakota State Hospital, Crisis Center, Senior Center, Safe Shelter and Louis L'Amour Elementary School.
"(We're) challenging people to do things on their own in the community, do something for someone else," Goodrich said. "It's about doing the season differently."
There are several ways to focus on Advent. People can choose to reduce spending on their Christmas gifts, or choose to eat evening meals by candlelit Advent wreath, as a reminder people waited in darkness for the birth of Jesus.
They could volunteer or help their neighbors with a project. They could reconnect with old friends or ask God to help forgive someone during the Advent season.
Grace is hosting a New Year's party beginning at 5 p.m. Saturday, and it is inviting the community. Food, games for children and prizes for everyone who attends will be available. People are asked to bring a nonperishable food item for donation to the Salvation Army.
Each year people in the U.S. spend $450 billion on Christmas, Goodrich said. Meanwhile, 1.8 million people around the world are killed every year by contaminated water, which would only cost $10 billion to fix permanently.
That's the goal of Living Water International, an organization dedicated to implementing clean water solutions in developing countries. Grace Episcopal Church will give its Christmas Eve offering to the organization, founded in Houston, Texas.
"Advent, traditionally, is about preparing to celebrate the birth of Christ," Goodrich said. "We aren't listening. We aren't watching. (We need to) slow down and watch the miracle of God coming to us in the form of a little baby."
For more information about the Advent Conspiracy, visit www.adventconspiracy.org.
For more information about Grace Episcopal Church, visit http://gracechurchinjamestown.com.
Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be reached at 701-952-8453 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org