Monday, November 26, 2007

Do They Know It's Christmas? Part I Commercial Christmas

Last night we started a new series at h2o called Do They Know it’s Christmas that will take us to the end of the semester. This week in particular we looked at a story Jesus told about a man who had so much stuff he found himself needing to build bigger barns. Before Jesus tells the story, he warns people to guard themselves against covetousness and tells them that their life consists of more than the abundance of their possessions.

Essentially, he says the exact opposite of what modern marketing gurus would like us to believe. Many of us have heard the story multiple times, and yet, when we are succumbed to over 30,000 commercials a year (on average) not to mention countless billboards, neon signs, and newspaper ads, it is easy to drown out the voice that tells us we have more than enough.

In the words of Ron Sider in his book Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, “The increasingly affluent standard of living is the god of the twenty-first century in Northa America, and the adman is its prophet.” His book doesn’t say that Christians are the problem, he just argues that affluence is not our god. But you know, if you were to look at the average American household, you might be tempted to think that our source of strength was found in the amount of stuff we could hoard. It is so easy to get caught up in “building bigger barns” or believing the lie that life does not consist in more than the abundance of our possessions. And so we go out and spend money like crazy to buy more stuff—last year Americans spent $455 billion during the holidays.

It’s not that buying things is bad either. Especially around Christmas time it is nice to celebrate the arrival of our Savior by exchanging gifts since God gave us the ultimate gift in Christ. But do we need to be so excessive in our spending? Sometimes I feel like we can get caught up in “building bigger barns” as the holidays arrive. I don’t want to seem trite or judgemental or even seem like I have it all together—because anybody who knows me well knows that I don’t. I still oooohhhh and aaaaaahhhhhh over every new release that apple makes.

But maybe, as we scurry about this holiday season, we can think about gifts and giving in a different vein. Last year, I made photo albums for my family and sort of wrote a little “book” for them. I think it might have been the best gift I had ever given. Instead of giving them more stuff, I gave them something that I took time and care and LOVE and placed them all into this unique gift.

My mom made me a quilt and a scarf just a couple of years before she died. While I won’t see my mom again until the day I go to be with Jesus, every time I see the things she has made, I am reminded of the intense love she has for me, and that she took the time to care for me many, many times over the years of my life. And to me, that’s the most meaningful gift of all.

Seems like it rings familiar of another story I read where someone else loved so much that He worked tirelessly to give us what we really needed in the greatest act of love history has ever known.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if our gifts echoed that this year.


BigMama said...

We've been trying to instill that in our children as well. We don't have cable, so if my kids watch any television, it's PBS kids and that doesn't have any advertising on it. My 4 year old son was at his grandparents and they had Nickelodeon on -- chock full of commercials! His response to an ad for some awesome looking, but probably stupid toy was, "TV tries to make us buy stuff that is expensive and we don't need." I guess the message that consummerism isn't the be all, end all is getting through a wee bit louder, at least for now!

Welcome back to WV!

Michaelanne said...

Thanks for writing this... I decided after having a panic attack over Christmas giving 3 years ago that I just wouldn't buy anyone anything. It's changed the whole season for me. It's kind of awkward at times and it won't be forever, but for now I get along much better. I think we as Christians should go beyond just putting up signs that say "Jesus is the reason for the season" and talk with our actions and wallets! REALLY good to see you last week Billy.

Anonymous said...

This is something that plagues me all of the time, not only the holiday season (but probably especially that time of year). We have so much and the world tells us that we need more. I feel that hunger in me. I feel it when I see a new DVD I want, or a CD I "need." But after I get it, I'm happy, I use it, but then the hunger's back. It's never satisfied. Until you realize that the objects aren't really what the hunger is about. It's about an object that we can't touch right now. Something that won't get dusty on a shelf. Something that is only satisfied when you embrace God and start a friendship with him. We're all homesick. It's just that many don't remember where home is and many are willing to cling to anything and everything to help them cope with the sickness.