Simplicity vs. Christmas Spirit

I just got the majority of the Christmas presents that I'm giving this year wrapped today.  It made me excited about Christmas for one of the first times this season.

Of course the reasons that I haven't been in the "spirit" are that:
- I am in 90* heat instead of -10
- There is no snow on the ground
- I have not just finished finals (although with turning in grades I feel a bit like I have)
- I haven't had the screaming American advertisements about Christmas pumped into my brain for the last two months
- I am not with my whole family
- The whole weather thing again.  It deserves to be mentioned three times

Still, it should not take presents to make me excited about God becoming flesh to live a human life and then die a human death for my sins.  With my time off school I've been doing a bit more reading, and the book Freedom of Simplicity: Finding Harmony in a Complex World by Richard Foster has been making me think a lot about where my consumer mindset comes from.

A few thoughts from the book-

Foster speaking about holy obedience:

We are to discipline ourselves to "seek first the Kingdom of God."  This focus must take precedence over absolutely everything.  We must never allow anything, whether deed or desire, to have that place of central importance.  The redistribution of the world's wealth cannot be central, the concern for ecology cannot be central, the desire to get out of the rat race cannot be central, the desire for simplicity itself cannot be central.  The moment any of these becomes the focus of our concern, it has become idolatry.  Only one thing is to be central: the Kingdom of God.  And, in fact, when the Kingdom of God is genuinely placed first, the equitable distribution of wealth, ecological concerns, the poor, simplicity, and all things necessary will be given their proper attention."

Personal finances:

Today there is a heretical teaching that is an absolute plague in American Christianity.  It is the dogmatic and unexamined credo that whatever we gain is ours to do with as we please...In no way can we twist the Scripture to justify such a belief.  Our lifestyle is not our private affair...The Gospel demands more of us: it is obligatory upon us to help one another hammer out the shape of Christian simplicity in the midst of modern affluence.

I have much to think about as I live here as a missionary on support and then as I go home in August as a very poor but also very privileged young American.

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