I’ve asked a cross-section of Anchorage pastors to comment upon Advent as an Antidote for Acquisitiveness or Consumerism. Our next pastor featured is Mark Goodman, Senior Pastor of Rabbit Creek Community Church.
He spoke in extremes. “No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon”(Matthew 6:24). No wiggle room there! The Lord Jesus chose the Aramaic word “mammon” in reference to riches because the word’s root is associated with the act of trusting. His message is clear. Each person who would follow in the Jesus Way cannot simultaneously trust in God, the Provider, and riches, the stuff on earth. You and I, however, live in the world of Black Friday, zero % interest loans, endless credit card offers, and the American Dream. Considering that stores opened before the Thanksgiving turkey meal was digested, most of us find it difficult to count our blessings without doing the math to figure how soon we can buy and therefore count higher. It is time to trust in Who rather than What.
I delight in knowing that I will join with my church family on the 24th to sing praises to God for His gift of Jesus. I look forward to ripping wrapping paper and reaching into my gingerbread man-adorned stocking. I smile in anticipation of watching my daughter and sons bolt down the stairs on the 25th. I pray that my wife likes what I picked out. Eagerness for Christmas, however, should not overshadow Advent. The season of Advent helps us to avoid the trap of Mammon. It helps us focus on what really matters, to trust the only One worth serving.
December 2nd marked the first Sunday of a four-week observance of Advent (a coming). Christian believers look forward to that day that the Apostle Paul referred to as “the blessed hope – the glorious appearing” (Titus 2:13). On that day the great God and Savior, Jesus Christ will appear. While Christmas reminds us of Jesus’ first arrival, Advent declares the promise of His return, His second arrival. Christmas without Advent is a reflection on an historical event alone. Advent, while allowing time to look back, draws our attention forward so that we can look forward to God coming to set all things right. No matter how much we buy, even if everything in your shopping bag is 40% off, we will tire of the gifts sooner than we think. How many shoes do you really need? How many rifles does it really take to bag next year’s game? Do you really just have to have the newest iPhone? If you must, go ahead and buy it. But don’t count on any purchase to bring you happiness. I am no Grinch. I will buy and open as you do. Yet, I sure hope that I will remember to count my blessings before I do and not pout if the number, as it increases, does not include that certain “must have.” Join me, won’t you? [img_assist|nid=163082|title=Sr. Pastor Mark Goodman, Rabbit Creek Community Church|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=250|height=390]