Re-Advent yourself this season: Think before you buy



 The prayerful preparation of Advent seems to always compete with the constant call of Christmastime conspicuous consumption. I have wondered what could actually slow us down enough to change the way we make decisions in these hectic days before Christmas.
     Anne Rex, pastor at Fields Chapel near Canton, designed a unique Advent gift for members of her congregation. She passed out a laminated “master” card and asked everyone to put the card in front of the credit cards in their purse or wallet. Then during the intensity of the Christmas shopping season, she invited her people to look at the card and to ponder the five questions before making any purchase. 
      Other churches, including Birmingham UMC, are now adapting this idea to help their constituents to strengthen our witness during the Advent season. 
   The questions continue to echo:
     Do I really need this item? 
   Does the person I am buying it for really need it?
     Can I afford to just buy something rather than investing myself more fully in my relationship with the intended recipient? 
   Does my giving recognize the injustices that litter our world today? 
   Will this product be a dust catcher or merely find its way to a future yard sale? 
   How might we give gifts that really endure? 
    Have I remembered the real birthday boy on my shopping list? 
   Can you ever BUY Christmas? Maybe Christmas can only be born.
     Ideas are just ideas unless they actually change our behavior and change us. So now I keep one of these cards in my wallet, in front of my credit cards, forcing me to ponder my own spending habits every time I reach into my wallet, calling me to go deeper in my own Advent journey as I make more room for what Christ is trying do with me. So perhaps it’s not just how I spend the money God has entrusted to me, but how I spend my time, my energy, and my thoughts.
    How might your spending change this Advent?
    Love came down at Christmas, Love all lovely, Love Divine, Love was born at Christmas, Star and Angels gave the sign. -- Christina Rosetti
Blessings and Peace this season.
Rev. Dr. Phil Schroeder is Associate Director of Connectional Ministries. He wants to hear creative ideas and stories from your church. Contact him at