The best way for any of us to reduce our slavery footprint is for us to intentionally consume less. Whew. There I said it. This is the hardest part for us to tackle honestly. We all have our reasons why it just won't work to change the way we do Christmas...grandparents who will be angry, family who expects our participation, a husband who thinks we've gone a bit off the deep end.
And I get that. This process is most effective if it is an opportunity to educate and thus affect those around us. If we alienate and anger everyone around us from our perceived soapbox, well, that's not exactly the point. Nor does it feel very much about the true spirit of Christmas.
And if our goal is renounce consumer craziness and reclaim some of Christmas' earliest message that love is born in humble places we have to be brave about making intentional changes, but we have to find ways to do it that are lavish in love and generous in grace. After all, shepherds and kings both showed up bearing their gifts for the Christ Child and they were all welcomed.
But if we are to begin, we have to begin somewhere. Here are my thoughts on how we can begin to address the hardest part of this process of giving freedom instead of consuming this Christmas.
1. Pray. I do believe that at its heart, this is a spiritual matter for all of us. Christmas and what it means. Our consumption habits and where they come from. Our expectations of ourselves and others. The way we respond to others' expectations of us. This all has to do with the state of our souls and the state of our sin and our relationship with the Lord whose coming we celebrate in the great feast of Christmas.
When we begin to feel a stirring inside us to change, we can become just as manic about needing to get it right RIGHT NOW as we are tempted to be about consumption. We have to remember the goal here is to slow down and be more intentional about what we are doing. Not to raze Christmas to the ground with a moral wrecking ball.
That balance is only going to come through prayer. Let's start there. Immerse ourselves in the Word and the mysteries of Christ's birth. Ask ourselves what it means to live those mysteries this season. Make room for the Holy Spirit to inspire and inform our consciences. Confess our consumer sins and willful ignorance of the past. Clean out our hearts with the same vigor we clean out the toy shelves and the kitchen cupboard to make room for Christmas' newness.
Start living a spiritual advent now, before the consumer craziness hijacks your opportunity. Advent in its more secular form can mean a change or development. The birth of something new. Let's start now so we can make it so.
AND let's resist the temptation to turn Advent into its own consumer frenzy in order to get it right. You and I are both already thinking about just the books we can buy and the cute pinteresty things we can do to live Advent and get it right RIGHT NOW. Again. Sigh. See how insidious that urge to consume more is?
Look, here's the November supply list:
1. a bag of fair trade coffee or tea
2. a Bible you already have
3. a pen you already have (dig it out from the couch cushions if you must and forget about whether it is colored gel ink in Christmas colors with glittery sparkles. Manger. Food trough. Barn cave. Any pen will do.)
4. Some type of paper bound together in one place. A half stack of Post It notes from the junk drawer will do. You DO NOT need a new prayer journal. Use the last twenty pages of one of the ten you already have.
(I say these things because I love you. And I get you. I am talking to myself. If you were not tempted to do any of those things above, props to you. You're one step ahead of me on this journey.)
Now. Here's where you can have a little fun. Make a space to pray and plan for this Christmas. Choose a space in your home, rearrange a bit, make it feel new and welcoming and waiting. Just like Christmas. Use things you already have as intentional visual reminders in the space about what your goal and purpose is here But your supplies from above there at there at the ready.
And for the next 30 Days, let's go there together. Every day. And together let's seek the heart of Christmas. And ask God how He would have us change our practices. Let's ask His forgiveness for the ways our need to consume has enslaved His children. Let's beg for their freedom and for ours. Let's pray for those who fight this very real battle on the ground. And those who perpetrate this evil. Let's pray for change. And let us give Him permission to begin with us.
All posts will be linked in the introductory post for the series
so you can follow along easily if you like