It’s only 29 days to Christmas. Somehow the countdown seems less important to me than when I was a child. I’m not sure how far back the countdown would be (I don’t think it ever reached 3 figures) but with a birthday in February it always seemed a long time until presents.
On Sunday morning we had a guest preacher for our church anniversary, Rev Chris Andre-Watson. Chris is a buddy of mine from my days at the minister factory and it was a joy to have him with us. One thing he said resonated with me when he was speaking about our consumerist society. He said that they were thinking of renaming their daughter ‘Argos’ because that is her favourite book. She goes through the new catalogues ringing the items she wants. That is also our experience with one of our offspring, especially the autumn/winter catalogue because that is the one that would have potential Christmas presents in.
Is it just my imagination or have Christmas lists become more demanding? I think it used to be that you would ask someone for some ideas of what they would like as a gift. Now we give people exact details of the items we want (including colour) and expect that this will be bought. I don’t want to discount myself from this process as I know I do it too, but there is something brilliant in my experience about the unrequested and unexpected present. The item that you have no idea what it is until you open it.
This shopping list approach can become the paradigm for my praying if I am not careful. I have been looking again at my prayer life and whether the balance is good. I realise that a lot of the time I have a Christmas present list rather than some ideas. I know what I want Jesus to do for me rather than ‘this would be nice but your will be done’. But God is gracious and patient with me. He gently corrects and encourages me to keep at it. And on a regular basis he blesses me in an unrequested and unexpected way. Like the encouraging letter, email or phone call. Like the ‘thank you’ for something you had not realised anyone had noticed. Like the joy of seeing people grow into and in their faith.
I’m going bald (in case you had not noticed). I asked Father Christmas for something to keep the rest of my hair in. He gave me a paper bag.