I rushed down the stairs quickly but quietly. The Christmas tree was lit, and the whole room was crowded with piles of presents. Christmas Day. The day I had long anticipated by counting down with the advent calendar my mom gave to me. I could hardly contain my excitement. I knew we would have to wait until mom woke up before we could open presents. Yet, that didn't matter too much. I assessed each present: Who was it for? How big was it? What could it be? Would I get everything that I wanted?

Later, my sister and I opened our gifts one at a time. I’m pretty sure I did get everything I wanted. I can’t remember what year that was, but I remember how numerous the presents were. Maybe I asked for a lot of stuff and each item wasn't too expensive. Maybe the household income was especially good that year, and the Christmas budget was larger. Whatever it was, I remember that Christmas we could barely walk through the room.

I remember it because the following years, I didn't always get everything on my list. I asked for more expensive items and wanted more things. Sometimes I complained about it. Other times I made sure to visibly show my sadness. My parents would tell me that I was being greedy. As much as I didn't want to admit it, it was true. If I didn't get everything on my list, I would consider past Christmases when I got everything I wanted. I would go through my list and make note of all the things I didn't get. I sometimes had a problem with being content.

We’ve just come out of our national season of thanksgiving and now we're on to Christmas time! Both seasons encourage us to be content. Both seasons urge us to intentionally reflect on all that God has done for us. This is difficult. We’re humans. We’re known to be greedy, selfish, and discontented. We know this, and it’s why we benefit from holidays and special celebrations that help us be more intentional about having contentment through God.

Psalm 23:1 says, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” 

This passage communicates that God is our provider and fulfiller. God’s word reminds us that He gives us all that we need. He continues to daily and richly provide for us. If we find ourselves consistently wanting more, we have to ask ourselves, “Am I content with what I do have?” There is a fine line between having honest desires for something and wanting something too much. When we want things too much, we tend to make those things or people our idols. Through our discontentment we communicate, “God, you are not enough. I want more.”

 “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” – Philippians 4:11-12

As children of God, we are called to be content in every situation. We’re able to do this because of God’s Holy Spirit who has transformed our hearts. The Spirit doesn’t lead us to assess our gifts and blessings to see if we have everything we want. The Spirit leads us to assess all that we have to see how much God has done for us. As we enter into the month of December and all that it brings for us in the Church year, I would encourage you to be content. I encourage you to focus on what God has given you.

Most of all, we celebrate the fact that God gave us His Son Jesus Christ. We rejoice in the hope of Jesus’s first and second coming. We have contentment here and now, knowing that our lives are marked by God’s grace.

Written By: Vicar Alex Lahue