On Sunday I quoted an abbreviated passage from A.W. Tozer. After the service a woman from our congregation went out and looked for the quote online and found the fuller version. It’s truer now than ever before.
“Christ came to bring peace and we celebrate His coming by making peace impossible for six weeks of each year. Not peace but tension, fatigue and irritation rule the Christmas season. He came to free us of debt and many respond by going deep into debt each year to buy enervating luxuries for people who do not appreciate them. He came to help the poor and we heap gifts upon those who do not need them.”
-A.W. Tozer, “Concentrating on Christ at Christmas”
I was struck by this sentence: He came to free us from debt and many respond by going deep into debt each year to buy enervating luxuries for people who do not appreciate them.
Somehow I imagined that the debt he speaks of wasn’t as much a part of the culture back then. The first store-based credit cards, however, appeared back in the 1920’s. Credit card usage moved in a whole new direction in the early 1950’s when The Diners’ Club card was introduced as the first card to be accepted by different businesses and paid by a third party. So, mounting and debilitating credit card debt may well have been around back then. It’s the American Way… and another reason to spend less at Christmas: debt robs us of resources.
I love new words and I found one in this quote. Maybe it isn’t that new to you, but what are we to make of the word, enervating, to describe the luxuries we give one another at Christmas. Enervating means “causing one to feel drained of energy or vitality.” The gifts we often give drain us and others of energy and vitality. Wow. In fact, there is much about the Christmas season (popularly celebrated) that is truly enervating, I think. Parties. Extra worship services. Shopping. Family get-togethers. And debt.
So it strikes me after the fact of the sermon on Sunday that spending less is not just about money. It’s about time and energy. Perhaps if we learned to spend less energy and time on the things that enervate us, we would be energized instead. We would be filled up instead of empty. We would be set free to worship, celebrate and party in the most meaningful of ways this time of year. How will you spend less money, energy and time in the wrong ways in the week before Christmas that remains? What changes can you make even now?