Art by Paige PoolerWith Halloween over and the harvest season well under way, it's the time of the year when we realize the holidays are here. This is one of my favorite times for so many reasons, like I simply love the warmth of the season. I love the warmth of familiar hugs and blessings.
I love so much about this season that its hard to talk about something that I don't like, but I will because, well, I like to stir the pot a bit. You see, I cannot express, in an eloquent manner, my frustration and annoyance with how Christmas has become so consumer driven. Christmas is and always will be a religious holiday, but for many, it has become a season of spending. This spending morphs into larger volumes of debt. I read an article the other day that talked about how most families over spend at Christmas, putting all purchases on their credit cards that are very rarely paid off by the next Christmas. This is insanity to me and I can honestly admit, I've been there, done that. I had a hard time sleeping at night in August realizing I was struggling to make payments to a credit card that were in existence because of Christmas presents I purchased 3 YEARS AGO! It's awful, I know. I'm no better than anyone else.
This year, my church is holding a sermon series called the Advent Conspiracy. This is going on this month and started last Sunday. The series is taking a hard look at the advent season and what it really means. Think about it, Christmas is a celebration honoring the birth of Christ. Thus, Christmas is Jesus's birthday party. So why is it that no one ever asks Jesus what he wants? I think its because if we did, we wouldn't like the answer. Jesus wouldn't tell us to go into debt to buy things for others that they probably won't like anyway. Jesus wouldn't tell us to buy more toys for children whose rooms look like Toys R Us threw up in them. Jesus wouldn't tell us to by that new TV, car, Coach purse, shoes...when the ones we have are working just fine and still serve there purpose. So, what would Jesus ask for his birthday? Hmmm. Well, maybe that we stop spending mindlessly. Maybe that we actually listen to him and love our neighbor. Maybe that we invest in something that will last, like a prayer life. Maybe that we stay home with our families rather than working overtime to afford gifts that will be in a garage sale a year from now. Maybe that we give food to those who won't be eating on Christmas, let alone receive gifts. Maybe to share the real meaning of Christmas with our children. Maybe to help end poverty, hunger, AIDS, human trafficking, malaria...there is only a few things to pick from after all. And maybe, Jesus would tell us to stop skipping over Thanksgiving.
Christmas is such an important holiday, especially for Christians. It's a time when we can celebrate the coming of Christ, of light and of hope. But it is also a time that comes after another important holiday. I can't stand going shopping this time of year. Why? Because all the Halloween decorations are down and now there are Christmas trees. If you can believe it, I actually went into a Walmart recently that had Halloween decorations up right next to the Christmas trees. WHAT?!?!?!?! What happened to Thanksgiving? Are you one of those people who has asked that question too? Lawd knows I have!
This is the time we can all stop being turkey's and start being thankful. These next few weeks hold a beautiful opportunity for all of us to think about and prepare for Thanksgiving. We can prepare to be thankful. Of course, I think we should do this everyday, but whatever. So...let's not forget Thanksgiving. Let's go on a crusade, not to bring sexy back, but to bring turkey back. Let's bring back a season of thanking before a season of asking. Funny isn't it? It's sort of like prayer. We should go first to the Lord with words of praise and thankfulness. Then, we can spend some time praying for that which we need. Listen, God knows what we need whether we tell Him or not. What God wants to hear is the thank yous for the blessings already bestowed upon you. This is not a time to keep asking for more, when more has driven us further in debt. This is a time to prepare our thanks before the Lord for the many blessings we have all received.
So I urge you...on behalf of all humanity...do not decorate for Christmas yet. And if you have to hang your lights because the weather is kinda nice and you won't run the risk of killing yourself in snow and ice, fine, but I'm begging you, don't turn the lights on until at least the turkey or tofu if you don't eat turkey, has digested!!! PLEASE!!!
I also urge you to enter this time as a season of prayerful thanks to the Lord and those around you who rarely hear those powerful words, "Thank You." Let's be thankful together so that when Christmas comes, we can truly appreciate the depth of giving God has placed in all of us.
Can I hear an Amen?