Then [Jesus] told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.” (Luke 12 16-21)
Christmas is coming! Are you ready? By now, it seems everyone is checking off the to-do list to prepare for the Big Day: the decorations are up (thank goodness), but there is still a shopping list of gifts, presents to wrap, activities to plan, cards to send, baking (must make Aunt Myrtle’s recipe for fudge), and dinners to cook. And then there are all the practices for special services at church. How can we whittle down the to-do list so we can just enjoy the season and worship?
I remember as a child Christmas Day was fantastic, easily the best day of the year. Each of my sisters and I received a stack of presents, mostly toys we had been hoping for. I also remember the first Christmas when I did not have one present to open Christmas Day. I felt cheated and let down that those childhood experiences gave me an expectation that it would always be that way.
Everywhere you look here in Treasure Valley new homes are being built. My husband and I are amazed every time we see them at how big the new houses are. I haven’t noticed any boom in family size to explain it. I think it is because we are all accumulating more “stuff” that we need to store. Like the parable told by Jesus, we think having more room to store all our stuff will somehow bring us joy. I get amused by yards manically covered with decorations and lights that proudly display the Grinch. Wasn’t he the guy who said, “What if Christmas doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”
If you feel trapped by all the holiday customs you feel bound to continue, examine them. “Reminder: We don’t have to continue holiday traditions the leave us broke, overwhelmed or tired” (Rachel Jonat, The Minimalist Mom).
So here is my tip. Stop trying to outdo yourself, your neighbors, or your memories. Talk to your kids about exchanging fewer presents, and participate in a community service project to share your faith instead. Donate to a good cause as a gift. No one needs 12 kinds of cookies to celebrate. Just pick your favorites. Start planning now how you can cut back even more next year.
Jesus continued, Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Luke 12:32-34) Noah BenShea says, “Don’t confuse having less with being less, having more with being more, what you have with who you are.”
Lord, our only goal is to serve you. Forgive us when we are sidetracked by the voices and glitter around us. When the bright lights and gaudy toys of this world distract us, lead us again to you.
Forgive us when we covet all the material things we see. Help us find our way to being more when we have less, and separating our possessions from our souls.
Forgive us when we cannot find room for Jesus. Help us find ways to make time to worship for ourselves, and help us to inspire others to do the same. Amen.