Next week we are heading back to Australia after being here for four years. We have loved our time in St. Albert. This is a very special place and you are served by some remarkably dedicated and gifted leaders both in the church and in the broader community.
The Good Neighbour Project is remarkable (goodniehgbourproject.org) and I don’t think there is any doubt that St. Albert is the Block Party capital of the world. I doubt that any other city on the planet could point to over 50% of streets having participated through the course of a decade. It has been so encouraging to see the way the churches, community groups and the city have been able to partner in such a productive way.
As i prepare to leave however, I do want to issue you with a challenge.
If you haven’t already noticed, there is a culture in this city of a continual striving for better houses, holidays, experiences and toys, that never reaches a point of fulfillment.
Many of us have fallen for the lie of the St. Albert’s dominant consumer culture that we are going to buy our way to a life that brings satisfaction. We never will.
William T. Cavanaugh, in his book Being Consumed says:
“Our relationships with products tend to be short-lived: rather than hoarding treasured objects, consumers are characterized by a constant dissatisfaction with material goods. This dissatisfaction is wha produces the restless pursuit of satisfaction in the form of something new. Consumerism is not so much about having something else; that’s why its not simply buying but shopping that is at the heart of consumerism.”
Too many of us in St. Albert live our lives in a constant state of shopping, looking for the next thing and not having the space to appreciate what we already have. The tragedy of St. Albert is that we are living in a place and at a standard that 98% of the world can only dream about, but our dreams about what we don’t have stop us from enjoying the people around us and the very special place God has us in.
Jesus told his followers not to worry about tomorrow because it has enough worries of its own, and not to worry about stuff, but simply to be in the moment with Him (Matthew 6:33-34). I think that principle is why Jesus continually told his followers that they needed to become like little kids, who live their lives in the wonder of the present moment and trust that the future will look after itself.
In my opinion this is the greatest challenge facing the residents of St. Albert. We are so busy that we simply don’t have the emotional space to be present in the moment with God, others or even ourselves.
Don’t let the dark side of St. Albert’s culture of consumerism rob you of your life.
Can I suggest that you create the space to just hang out with your family and neighbours with no agenda? Go for a walk along our network of neighbourhood paths and take time to stop and enjoy your surroundings. Get to church on Sunday morning and rediscover the power of a life lived with something else rather than your own desires at the centre.
Life is for living now.