Bah humbug! Tis the season for chillin’ out

From the Pulpit by Rev. Dan Hines, St. Alban's Anglican Church

I don’t think I am becoming a Scrooge.

Perhaps that is a bit too much. I do love the Christmas season. However, I must confess to some creeping grumpiness in me! It seems to grow as I experience another holiday season. I hear many others confessing the same uneasiness and concern. So, I do take some solace in knowing that if I am becoming a bit of a Scrooge that, at least, I am not alone!

The two simple words that are at the source of this uneasiness are “consumerism” and “commercialism”. I have been pondering those fancy words, and what has come to me is this: The Christmas decorations have been lurking in the back corners of supermarkets and home supply stores since late August.  These are waiting to join with the expanding shelves of Christmas items in the malls, boutiques, pharmacies, and other stores, just waiting for Halloween to pass so that they can all explode into their full manifestation on the first day of November.

The stores play Christmas songs earlier and earlier each year. Added to all this is the unrelenting barrage of television and other media advertisements for the holiday season. My newspaper is heavy with sales flyers of the latest iPhone. The parking lots of the stores are increasingly filled with cars; everyone is in a hurry, it seems. The news anchor has just informed me that holiday consumer purchasing is down from the same time last year, and it is not looking good for the weeks ahead.

Many are starting to ask questions about whether this ever expanding and sustained shopping and consuming is really making us any happier or more fulfilled. Is there some antidote to consumerism?

I have begun to re-appreciate the deep wisdom of rhythm and pacing in our spiritual traditions. Faith communities try to help people to find a sacred pace for the journey through life: a pace that has time for rests and that is not too fast and not too slow for us. Religious traditions guide people to set aside a time for fasting before a time for feasting, celebrating and consuming. Before a feast (a festival), there is a time for some inward soul work. The wisdom of sacred rhythm is to always set aside time for self-reflection and to meditate and pray. This quieter time builds anticipation and even makes the coming celebration time that much more joyous and festive.

If you would like to hit the pause button in the midst of busy holiday shopping, we invite you to join us at St. Alban’s Anglican Church on Tuesdays for the next few weeks. The religious season we have entered before the Christmas festival is known as Advent. As part of the wisdom of rhythm, Advent gives us one expression of how we might reflect on where we are and where we are going in our lives. We gather at 7 pm on Tuesdays before Christmas for some silence and informal reflective readings, prayers and music.

For more information, please call 250-453-9909.