From the Pulpit: Hope needs to regains its place over Black Friday
While eating slices of deep-dish pumpkin pie at the conclusion of the Thanksgiving Day feast, an eager, loving adult asked the children across the table, “So, what do you want for Christmas?”
Right then and there on the irresistible eve of Black Friday, the threshold of the launch of yet another retail bonanza, the focus jumps from Thanksgiving tradition, through the Christmas story, straight to Santa Claus! Visions of electronics, cashmere scarves, jewelry, big molded toys, beach towels, sports equipment and much more begin to dance in our heads. And I would guess, by rough estimate, that 70 percent of all that is in that lustful vision, will be returned to the store before the new year.
Pshew! Turkey, dressing and pumpkin pie get whisked away by thoughts of ribbons and stuff under the tree.
My conclusion, when I stop to think about the magnitude of this consumer marketing imposition, is that in the final analysis, Black Friday has taken over Christmas as the most significant aspect of the season. Christmas is just a warm little moment huddling under the massive, retail shadow of Black Friday. (If that sounds like an agonizing religious sentiment, it is.)
The morning TV news shows give full coverage to the campers who have waited for cold, miserable hours in store parking lots. All are waiting there to be up close for the ultimate, opening rush through the doors. We see them bursting through, elbowing their way and snatching up 84-inch TV screens that they balance on shopping carts that are loaded with items ripped from the shelves on the way. Victory for blessed Black Friday!
Just compare the parking lot at the mall on Black Friday with the parking lot at the local church on Christmas Eve. Even if they’re similar, it is only a temporary bump for the church. By the time that the next church event rolls around, there will be lots of parking spaces to choose from. Surviving the church gauntlet, the parking lot will empty fast, and then it’s on to Black Friday merchandise that is back home waiting under the tree, beautifully wrapped and ready to please.
My dear Christmas, the wonder mystery of hope there is in the manager, parented by the union of innocence and devotion, we apologize for being seduced by our consumers’ lust for more. We have allowed ourselves to be convinced that things will make us happier. In the mind of our consuming consumer passion, we cannot resist being drawn into buying more and more. For we, the Black Friday congregation, have left reasonability and common sense behind. We’ve gone daffy. Christmas means more about the stuff than the hope.
We need to regain our perspective and reset our purchasing power back to the needs more than wants. What we need is to think about is what really counts. It is the season of the rebirth of our Hope. That Hope needs to be given a fighting chance to regain its place, even out of the depths of the Blackest Friday.