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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by Susan Hanson

Monday, December 13

[T]he people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.
—Matthew 4:16

For many retailers, the “Christmas shopping season” is a make-or-break time of year. According to an article on holiday shopping on the website PCWorld, "Number crunchers estimate $1 billion was spent online Monday and $45 billion was spent at retail stores on [Black] Friday," the day after Thanksgiving. This year's sales beat out last year's by 6.4 percent, according to the National Retail Federation, with more than 212 million shopping visits, including online, over the holiday weekend.

It's no wonder that Christmas leaves so many of us feeling stuffed and out of sorts. We are overwhelmed by our own abundance, by an array of limitless choices, by the sheer profusion of things.

As a countermeasure, we purchase books about "uncomplicating" the season—books such as Jean Staeheli and Jo Robinson's Unplug the Christmas Machine or Elaine St James's Simplify Your Christmas

A group of Canadian Mennonites has gone so far as to initiate the "Buy Nothing Christmas" movement. "My participation in Buy Nothing Christmas directs me to a larger, spiritual perspective on the season," founder Aiden Schlichting Enns explains on the group's website. "I'm trying to find a way to be 'real.' I'm on a journey to connect my life and faith."

Like Enns, we are on a journey, too, a journey full of open-ended questions and complex choices. Unfortunately, we can’t make our celebration of Christmas more meaningful by following 10 easy steps. What we can do, however, is learn to see it again as the radical event that it is: God himself cutting through the darkness, a searing ray of light strong enough to rend the human heart.

O God, let the blazing light of your divinity shine through the darkness and bring new life to my soul.

These Signposts originally appeared on explorefaith in 2004.