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More and More and More

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord;

let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!

Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving;

let us make a joyful noise to Him with songs of praise!

For the Lord is a great God,

and a great King above all gods.

Oh come, let us worship and bow down;

let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!

For He is our God,

and we are the people of His pasture,

and the sheep of His hand.

- Psalm 95:1-3, 6-7a

Has anyone noticed that Christmas shopping keeps starting earlier and earlier every year? Really, how could you miss it? Christmas trees and yard decorations went on sale in the box store near me right beside the school supplies. I don’t know where you live, but in August here, temperatures were daily over 100 degrees. Did y’all notice Black Friday began in early November? Christian websites have started marketing Christmas as well. Two of my favorite sites – one is a Bible search site, the other a book seller site – joined the all-of-November-Black Friday sales push. I find that kind of disheartening, as in, taking the heart out of the matter.

The push to buy more stuff is a prominent theme across our whole society. Amazon may be the best at marketing more things. “You bought ‘this thing’ and you might like ‘this similar thing’ to go with that first thing.” Ever fall for that? I have. “Oh… yeah… I would like that second thing, too!” The internet has put the world at our fingertips, and oh my, there are so many cool things out there to buy! Some of the things are for worthy causes, like, free trade or helping impoverished people. Buying some items is practically humanitarian aid.

Let’s be honest about this: how many things do you own because an email came through your inbox, and you thought, “Oh, wow, that is great! I really need it!” Vanilla bean paste. I have lived my entire life without even having ever heard of vanilla bean paste. One day, I opened an email from a site where I’d purchased vanilla beans sometime in the past decade, and there it was: vanilla bean paste. The first time I bought it I told myself I just needed to try to see how it compared to plain, ol’, run-of-the-mill vanilla extract.

There is something almost Pavlovian about advertising and purchasing. The other day, I got out a purse that had been packed away. Almost immediately, it began falling apart from being folded up for too long. It must have been a cheap purse. The next morning, an email advertising a sale at a department store was waiting in my inbox. During the time I’ve set aside for reading articles and books, what was I doing? Searching for purses online. Although I have several decent purses in storage, the one I am currently using, and any purse I want to borrow from my sister, I was using my study time to shop for a new purse. The incessant advertising, shopping, and buying feels sort of sinister because it is so seductive, like a siren’s call luring us into a trap.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. People can say it’s not a Christian holiday, and certainly, it’s not a biblical holiday. But the people who celebrated the first Thanksgiving were thanking the Christian God, as well as the indigenous people who had helped them survive. The Scriptures are full of references to gratitude and thanks to God for all that He has done. When Jesus healed the ten lepers, only one returned to thank Him. Jesus didn’t commend the cleansed leper that returned. Instead, He asked where the other nine were. We owe gratitude to God. It is our privilege to thank Him for all that He has done and is doing on our behalf, and it is His right to receive our thanks and praise.

Consider how often we ask for God to grant something we want – worthy requests like a friend’s salvation or a family member’s health. How do our prayers of thanks compare to our prayers of petition? The other day I saw a plaque that said, “I still remember the days I prayed for the things I have now.” I was struck by how great my blessings are and the rich ways that God has answered my prayers, but I rather doubt that I remember everything I’ve asked of God over the years, much less how much He’s given me. Do you remember praying for all that you now have? Moreover, how much more has He given us than we ever knew to ask? Do we, like the one leper, fall at the feet of our Lord to thank Him? I don’t know that Jesus requires that we grovel, but it certainly doesn’t hurt us to do so. We are lowly before the Lord of all.

The push to start Christmas earlier and earlier is not accidental, especially since Christmas is not centered in the Holy Day of Christ’s Mass for so many of us. Instead, Christmas has become a glut of tawdry spending and superficial appearance, not a sacred occasion of expectation and joy. Flooding us with a tide of glitter, wrapping, and bows until we forget to stop and give thanks is like satiating us with junk food, which in turn feeds our hunger for more. The worst part is that the more will never be enough. Recently, in an article about altruism and sacrifice, the results of a survey on how we view our money revealed that people who give away money enjoy their money the most. How contrary that sounds, but it shouldn’t be. We are created for good works, to give and to care for others. We reflect Christ when we give to others that which we have.

The reason most of us feel we need more stuff is because we don’t have enough of God. The ease with which advertising draws us into buying more and wanting more reveals an emptiness within us, personally and nationally. The totality of human wanting is fulfilled by Christ alone. Nothing else will suffice. We are satisfied when we have fellowship with God.

Sunday is Christ the King Sunday. The last Sunday of the Christian year celebrates the reign of Christ over all the earth, over all of creation, and over all the kings and gods that ever have and ever will exist. That would make Him King over Amazon, too, but if we’re busy searching for the sales (or planning our menus or reading the news), we can’t look up and see Him in His glory. We cannot rejoice that Christ our God is Lord of all, and we cannot thank Him for His immeasurable goodness.

We need that, you know. We need to sing to the Lord and come into His presence with thanksgiving. We need to look up from frenzied madness of more and more and more, so we can see the greatness of our God. If we slow down long enough to give thanks – truly thank God for His faithfulness, His rule over the whole of creation, His unmerited grace and boundless love – we will find the more and more and more that we truly crave. When we worship and bow down, He fills us and lifts us up.

We have time to stop and give thanks, just as the one leper came back to give thanks. In thanking God, we are reminded of both Who He is and who we are. He is our Maker, and we are His people, the flock of the Good Shepherd. He is going to take care of us. So, let’s stop and be grateful, taking time to sing His praises. If we will delight in Him, His delight in us will overwhelm us.

Happy Thanksgiving!

In Christ –

Rev. Elizabeth Moreau

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