As we enter the holiday season, the lure of “necessary” excess and the myth of a consumption that satisfies will steadily grow stronger. This is not a reality in every culture, but it is front and center in ours.
It for this reason that I offer this timely and prophetic quote from a faith father that is probably more relevant today than it was when he said it 1500 years ago.
Fifth-century monk Nilus of Ancyra wrote,
“We should remain within the limits imposed by our basic needs and strive with all our power not to exceed them. For once we are carried a little beyond these limits in our desire for the pleasures of life, there is then no criterion by which to check our onward movement, since no bounds can be set to that which exceeds the necessary.”
As we stumble toward a Jesus who taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread (nothing more and nothing less),” I offer this blessing as we navigate the beauty and brokenness of this holiday season.
May we find our deepest satisfaction not in what we receive, but in what we give away.
May we receive genuine relationship with family and neighbor as our most sacred gift.
May we free ourselves from the bondage of consumption that captures our time and imagination.
May the anxiety of lists and busyness be lifted and exchanged by the richness of laughter and presence.
May we care for the creation God has given us to steward by choosing less in the face of more.
May we be reminded, each day, of the reality of a God who moved into our human neighborhood in Jesus, announcing that another world is possible which comes into view a little more through our participation today.