'Tis the season of consumption! At Christmastime, it is hard to escape the steady drumbeat of advertisements urging you to buy, buy, buy, buy. Not to mention the dreadful sense of guilt until you have covered everyone on your shopping list. But Christmas is also the perfect time to put the reins on over-rampant consumerism and buck the trend: Do it by creating something.
In his book, The Suburban Christian, author Al Hsu explains how Christians have condemned culture, avoided culture, critiqued culture, and copied culture. "Mostly," he says, "we consume culture. But all of this is a far cry from God's intent, that we fulfill the [creation or cultural] mandate and exercise our energies to create culture." I could not agree more.
It is easy to sit back and criticize the folks who want to replace Merry Christmas with Happy Sparkle Day. Let's admit it—the whole thing is ludicrous, and it is an easy target. And while we should and do critique culture, there is also a way, however, in which we imitate God even more by rolling up our sleeves and creating culture.
Christmas is full of perfect opportunities for you and your family to start traditions to do exactly that. Maybe you can decide that as part of your annual gathering of family and friends that you will ask each person in a circle to share a particular talent. Maybe they will play a song or amuse the family with a favorite passed-down story. Or perhaps your 9-year-old daughter or granddaughter can razzle-dazzle the family with something she has learned in all those months of tap lessons. And that son who has been learning guitar: Ask him to strum a tune or two for the neighbors.
To flex the creative versus the consumptive muscles, you can also choose something you might normally purchase and instead make it yourself. Have the kids or grandkids participate with you. You could make candles to decorate the house or give as Christmas gifts. You could bake bread or goodies and take them to a family that has a loved one in prison or serving with the military overseas.
One of our blog writers at The Point tells how she writes a Christmas poem each year for friends and family. For her, it is an opportunity to exercise her creative gifts, but also a chance to meditate on a different aspect of the Christmas story and to worship God as she marvels at the wonder of His precious gift at Christmas.
And instead of watching football on TV, grab a football, get a few relatives and neighbors together, and turn your lawn into your own end-zone. Or you can teach your son or grandson how to build a soap-box car or a birdhouse. My oldest son just did exactly that with his nephew Max, my 17-year-old autistic grandson I have written so much about, and both were blessed. And whether you are tossing a ball or sanding a board, you are creating something—not only something in the physical realm, but also a space for intangible things like relationships and critical thinking and memories to be built. Max, in this case, will never forget what his uncle taught him.
The God in whose image we are made is a creator. He fashioned Adam from the dust, He formed Eve from a rib, and He interrupted history with His best gift of all, His Son. At Christmas, what a wonderful opportunity we have to imitate God by creating. Make time for it this Christmas, won't you? Merry Christmas!
From BreakPoint®, December 13, 2007, Copyright 2007, Prison Fellowship Ministries. Reprinted with the permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or distributed without the express written permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries. "BreakPoint®" and "Prison Fellowship Ministries®" are registered trademarks of Prison Fellowship