And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
Pastor Mark Buchanan lives with his wife and three children in Vancouver Island, British Columbia. He’s also the author of a book, Thinks Unseen, whose goal is to help you to be of more earthly good by becoming more heavenly minded. And he points out how we all continually live for the “Next Thing”—the next item on our checklist that gets us excited.
He says this can become so obsessive “that we lose the capacity to enjoy and to be thankful for what we have right now.” It’s a message that is particularly poignant during this Christmas season. Pastor Buchanan writes:
I saw this close-up … when my children first got to that age when the essence of Christmas becomes The Day of Getting. There were mounds of gifts beneath our tree, and our son led the way in that favorite childhood (and, more subtly, adult) game, How Many Are for Me? But the telling moment came Christmas morning when the gifts were handed out. The children ripped through them, shredding and scattering the wrappings like jungle plants before a well-wielded machete.
Each gift was beautiful: an intricately laced dress Grandma Christie had sewn, an exquisitely detailed model car Uncle Bob had found at a specialty store on Robson Street in Vancouver, a finely bound and gorgeously illustrated collection of children’s classics Aunt Leslie had sent. The children looked at each gift briefly, their interest quickly fading, and then put it aside to move on to the Next Thing. When the ransacking was finished, my son, standing amid a tumultuous sea of boxes and bright crumpled paper and exotic trappings, asked plaintively, “Is this all there is?”
Using this all-too-familiar Christmas scene, Buchanan shows how we too often forget to treasure and to savor. As he says, “The pressure of constant wanting dissipates all gratitude.” It’s true, isn’t it? That’s why savoring and treasuring are so vital during this holy week when we celebrate Christmas together.
By the way, Buchanan makes an important and somewhat surprising point here. He states that God made us this way. God gave us this yearning and hunger to find the “next thing.” It’s a restlessness and a yearning that he says is healthy and God-given. The issue is not the wanting that tarnishes the season. It’s the unbridled wanting that’s misplaced, that’s set on the wrong thing, that leads to disappointment. As we said, his message is to help us become more heavenly minded to be of more earthly good.
Reflect and Respond
What What can you do, in specific terms, to ensure your Christmas celebration this year allows you to “savor and treasure”?
Go ahead, tell us in the comments.
Meditations on Proverbs for Couples
Meditations on Proverbs for Couples draws from the ancient wisdom of Proverbs to provide modern couples with 31 down-to-earth and thoroughly modern meditations on communication, money, sex, commitment, forgiveness, conflict, and more.
Hope I am not being critical, but I believe Pastor Mark’s book is called “Things Unseen” rather than “Thinks Unseen”. And he no longer lives on Vancouver Island. He moved his family to Calgary, Alberta about two or more years ago where he now teaches at Ambrose University.
My daughter and her 8 children celebrate Christ’s birthday on Christmas and open gifts on New Year’s day. That way they keep the real meaning of Christmas in perspective. I think that’s a wonderful idea.
That is a wonderful idea!
When my children were little we read the scriptures pertaining to Jesus birth before they were allowed to open any presents. Now that they are all young adults we have not continued that tradition. I can imagine that perhaps they may do that with their own children.
Frankly we don’t exchange gifts for the holidays in our immediate family. We give to each other & to others outside of our family all year long.
In answering the question I can continue to read the story to myself during my quiet time with the Lord and just let it simmer. The Lord told Joshua to meditate on the scriptures day and night and then he will succeed where he was going. That commandment is for all of us.
My heart hurts because of how commercialized Christmas has become and also because 3 of our 5 children are not walking with God right now. This was a difficult season this year. This peice was the perfect thing for me to read at the perfect time. More food for thought. I like the aforementioned idea of opening gifts on New Year’s Day.