I’ve shared at different times about the insanity of how rushed we are in December each year in the lead-up to Christmas. It’s sadly ironic that the time of Advent - which covers most of December - is designed to be a time of reflection when we have turned it into the most stressful time of the year.
Having time to sit and reflect is good for our emotional and mental health, as well as our spiritual health. We are more rounded, whole people when we spend time doing these things. And we are invariably happier as well. The fact in Australia is though that, as a nation, we spent $8 billion on Christmas and $14 billion on post-Christmas sales.
The Boxing Day sales used to be about stores getting rid of excess stock; that’s why they were on sale. Now what the major stores do is actually get more stock in to sell, and they can afford to have them on sale because they know that demand will be at its peak. And in recent years post-Christmas online sales have been increasing as people try to find bargains online by shopping on Christmas Day. To use a cliche, nothing is sacred anymore. But cliches are cliches because they’re true. We even have to shop on Christmas Day now.
Back in the late ’80s, the Jubilee Centre released their ‘Keep Sunday Special’ campaign as a way to remind society about how good it is for us all to have a day of rest. A campaign like that is timeless and is more important now than it was then.
Through all this madness we hear the words of Jesus whispering, maybe yelling, down through the centuries, “Life does not consist in the abundance of possessions,” and “What will it profit you if you gain the whole world but lose your very self?.” This is exactly what we’re seeing. It’s worth mentioning again that Brene Brown, a social researcher in the US, says we are the most depressed, obese, medicated and addicted culture in history. It’s also worth repeating that American psychologist Martin Seligman has research showing that the rate of depression in the affluent world has risen tenfold since the Second World War. This is at exactly the same time as we have never been richer in terms of material and financial wealth.
“Come to me all you who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest” says Jesus again. As we move further into the second decade of the 21st century, the good news of Jesus is more relevant than ever. The world needs saving, and Christmas is a celebration of the great news that we have been given a Saviour.
Christmas was never meant to be stressful. It is instead the best news ever. God coming to earth on the great rescue mission, identifying with us in our brokenness, and all while we are still in our madness. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” May this truth refresh us as we get into the post-Christmas season.