By Norris Burkes
Posted Dec 3, 2017
After four months of European travel, my wife and I made our return to the United States during Thanksgiving week — just in time for Black Friday shopping deals.
I confess to feeling a little “culture shock.” During our travels, we gained some appreciation for European homes that tend to be smaller, older and not generally overstuffed with the latest materialistic comforts.
However, as I wandered through Walmart Thanksgiving night to find pajamas, I wondered how I would find peace amidst the frenzied pressure to buy more stuff.
I have always been a rather enthusiastic shopper, but since I no longer own a home and already have too many heavy suitcases, I need to curb my enthusiasm.
Given my predilection for buying — especially new-fangled electronics — I sought to slow my shopping last week by reframing the “The Lord’s Prayer” and refocusing on the words. By doing so, I found some relief from the manic materialism of our culture.
Take for instance, the opening salutation, “Our Father.” Repeat it with me in the tone of a small child who is seeking help from a loving parent. The words assert that God alone is the giver of all good things, not credit cards and shopping malls.
The next words, “who art in heaven,” may sound like the description of a detached deity, but they imply a God who is watching over us. We needn’t try to fill our inadequacies via our purchasing power. Our money can’t buy our world, so why do we try?
“Hallowed be thy name.” There seems little that is hallowed today. However, when we seek holiness in God, we discover that our desire to merge the sacred into a holiday wish list diminishes.
“Thy Kingdom come” doesn’t mean that we’re sitting around waiting for God to come to us. It means that we must invite the presence of God into our lives. It means that God’s presence always outshines the pretense of presents.
“Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in heaven.”
Seeking God’s will in our lives is not pursuing an earthly plan. Simply put, I’ve never seen a hearse towing a U-Haul trailer, so I don’t think God wants us to accumulate many more earthly goods than are useful for heavenly purposes.
“Give us this day our daily bread.” The phrase helps us remember that if God has given us our daily bread, shouldn’t we be helping others?
For example, we don’t need to buy something for us if it means a neighbor doesn’t have food or a place to keep it. We don’t need to give our children trinkets if the single mom at the Goodwill doesn’t have enough to buy her children clothes.
We can’t help everyone. As Jesus said, “The poor will always be with you.” But God doesn’t put needy people in front of us only because they need help. He puts them there because we need help, too.
“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” This plea for forgiveness reminds us that God forgives our selfish ways and that our overspending transgressions of the past don’t have to be repeated today.
“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” This phrase tells us that we are powerless before our shopping addictions, and we can overcome them only with God’s help.
Protestantism adds the closing line, “For thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory forever.”
However, Catholic and Protestants join together with a hearty “Amen.” in the closing. The word “amen” simply means, “Let all of this be so!”
May you find the joys of the season this year and know a truly meaningful Christmas.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Voicemail 843-608-9715 Twitter @chaplain. Read past columns at www.thechaplain.net.