You sit in your car and breathe in deeply, relishing the fleeting moments of peace. Your head begins to shake as the repetitive pattern of the parking lot starts to seem like a prison. As you begin to wander into the cement jungle tunes of torture begin to enter your ears. The amount of light and colour in your peripherals is overwhelming, distractions designed to engineer situations in which people can take your money abound.
That’s right- you are out Christmas shopping.
You are not the only person out shopping. Last Christmas it is estimated that Australian’s spent over eleven billion dollars during the Christmas period. On average, people are spending sixty per cent more time shopping than what they would in a ‘regular month’ and are willing to pay close to six hundred dollars on their festive shopping.
The holiday season becomes a time of high stress. People have to shop for the multiple get-togethers they will be hosting and attending where there will be a ridiculous amount of people.
We obsess over getting our loved one the perfect gift, doing anything to find it. The aim is to show the person you are buying for how much you appreciate them through the gift you give. We aim to please buying expensive on brand items and getting excited when we find items we have seen advertised on television. Even worse, so many of us when we get to give our gift will smile and look down at our smartphones and back again at the endless stream of consumer culture.
When we open our presents, we experience excitement when we get something we like and disappointment when we receive something strange. Our possessions have a profound impact on our emotions. Even more than that, as soon as we begin to use our new item, it has already started to depreciate, and we eye the updated model.
Christmas- the event which celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ has been hijacked. Consumerism has, to an extent destroyed Christmas.Fin
Jesus was God, born into a humble family in the simplest of circumstances. Even more than this, as Jesus grew up he stayed humble working as a carpenter. When Jesus began his three-year long ministry in the province of Judea, he lived a nomadic lifestyle and can be assumed to have owned only a few possessions.
Jesus himself warned against consumer culture. In Matthew 6:19-21 he instructs, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” It seems that the goods we consume and the importance we place on them can hinder our relationship with God.
This is further evidenced in the story of the rich young ruler. In this story, found in Mark 10:17-27 a young man asks Jesus what he needs to do to receive eternal life. Jesus responds by stating that he needs to give up all of the treasures that he has stored up on earth- the money, the jewellery and everything in between. He tries and yet he cannot do it. He is face to face with the saviour, he believes and yet he cannot leave his possessions. The same can be said for us when we are faced with the compelling products pedalled out during the Christmas season and really connecting with others.
Our possessions are a distraction from the message of salvation that can be found in the story of Christ.
Really pay attention to and marvel at the Christmas story. It is a time to be thankful for the birth of our saviour and to invest in a relationship with our loved ones but also a relationship with our God. The fast-paced nature of the consumer market means that what we have is never good enough. We need to slow down. If we don’t we are in danger of ‘scrolling’ beyond this amazing story.
Take time to stop and breathe- do not give into the instant gratification that buying and receiving products or even quickly consuming the Christmas story can bring.
The purpose of Christmas is not the presents we give and receive; it is about relishing in the presence of others and celebrating our creator. This holiday season take the time to step back from the empty promises of advertisers whispered through the neon lights. Take the time to pause in the buying frenzy in the shopping centre. Take time to think about what really matters. As you catch up with loved ones engage with them and don’t worry about the sale price of that x box you have been watching.
It is only when we remove our relationship to our possessions that we can truly let go and experience the full redeeming glory of God. As it says in Romans 12:12 “Do not conform to the [consumer, fast-paced, wasteful, lazy, inattentive] pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind [by paying attention to what God says is important].”
In a world that tells us we always need to buy more to be whole, fill yourself with Christ.
By Kira-leigh Josey
Consumerism has a significant impact on the way we experience our faith and the world around us. It is present at all times of the year but is more apparent in the Christmas season. Here is are further resources on the topic:
‘I See, I Want, I Take’ by Pr Brendan Pratt https://spectrummagazine.org/article/2018/01/12/i-see-i-want-i-take-%25E2%2580%2593-materialism-consumerism-god-and-discipleship
‘The Consumerism Deception’ by Pr Brendan Pratt
There are many contributors on this topic and I would encourage you to do further research.
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