Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Rethinking Christmas

Want, want, want. Buy, buy, buy. MORE, MORE, MORE. The call of consumerism. Every year around this time I start to get restless, disturbed down in my gut. Christmas starts getting closer, and we start hearing more commercials and seeing bigger crowds at the mall. We work on finishing up our list of things that will make us happier and more complete if only we could own them. Something deep inside me silently screams that this isn’t right. But every year I make my list too, and then I head to the malls to spend along with everyone else.

I was at a Christmas craft fair extravaganza on Saturday, and I felt trampled by the masses looking for something to want. Sometimes we run out of things to want because we have everything. So we go out looking for new things to want, trying to fill the emptiness. Wanting brings excitement to life. It seems there is always something new to be found.

So then we build onto our houses. We rent storage facilities. We move to a new neighborhood. All so that we will have room to store all of the new things that we have found to want. Wow.

So Daniel and I have decided: this year is going to be different. To the chagrin of all the economists telling me that the best thing we can do for our country is to max out our credit card this Christmas, we are shunning the malls and having A Very Crafty Christmas. We are making most of our Christmas gifts for others. Now that I am staying home with Madeline, we don’t have quite as much disposable income as we used to. I also have the incredible blessing of having more time on my hands. So I am showing my love for my family and friends by giving them the gift of time.

Too often I think we equate loving each other with spending a certain amount of money. But I believe that time is the truest gift of love. I find that it’s a lot harder to set aside time to spend talking, listening, and making things for each other than it is to just throw some money into a gift and call it done.

I Timothy 6:17-19
“Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life.”

So what does this mean for us? We are the ones he is talking about - rich in this world. We live in the richest nation in the world, and we are surrounded by excess. Yes, God gives us all we need for our enjoyment. But he intends for us to use our money to do GOOD. To share with others. To be generous. We have the incredible opportunity to store up treasure in heaven by what we choose to do with our money here on earth. (By the way, I highly recommend the book The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn. It transformed the way that I view money.)

Our crafty Christmas is partly out of conviction and partly out of necessity. It’s not what’s right for everyone, but we feel like it is what’s best for our family. But I do challenge you to rethink Christmas this year. How about setting aside more time to actually spend with those that you love and spending less time at the malls?

In the meantime, let’s share the incredible abundance that we have with those in the world that REALLY need it. Check out the World Vision Gift Catalog, and give the gift of water, of food, of education, or of animals for the poorest in the world this Christmas. And take a moment to watch this video. I came across it on a friend’s blog, and it really says it all.


Brad said...

We're getting crafty, too. Well, Hope is. I'm just paying the bills. ;-) We're almost done with Christmas gifts already, partly out of necessity (Annie is due right after Christmas) and partly due to Hope's desire to not put things off 'til the last minute. And I agree about all the consumer marketing messages out there... and from actually being in advertising/marketing, I can tell you people get really creative in coming up with ways to separate people from their money. But I think people (like me!) can use those talents for good, like for making that video (which was obviously professionally done.) Great video, BTW.

Journey Out Ministries said...

Dear Sarah - What a beautiful post! I am responsible for the RETHINK Christmas effort at my local church. May I use part of your post to inspire others to apply RETHINK Christmas to their lives?

Omaha, NE

Kristen said...

I would love to know what your crafty ideas are for everybody. I've wanted to do that for a few years now to save money and be more personal, but I never come up with anything great so I, with everyone else, end up at the mall just trying to think of something for a family member. This year I have no time, energy, or money to to Christmas shop and I would love to "do Christmas differently" this year. Would you mind emailing me your ideas? Thanks Sarah!