Black Friday (Thanksgiving 2013)
Father, God of the Christ child,
born into poverty, in the filth of a manger.
Where I live Advent begins on December 1,
the fourth Sunday before Christmas;
a day that introduces a season of waiting,
leading to the birth of the Christ.
But to be honest, Lord, I think our “holy days”
may begin the day after Thanksgiving;
on a day wholly devoted to our other faith,
Black Friday—High Holy Day for materialism.
I can’t think of a day that speaks more
about what we worship than Black Friday;
one nation devoted to spending money
on things we believe will bring us joy.
Many will spend the night before forming lines,
so when stores open they are the first in.
The best deals will be gone within minutes,
sold to those who run, block, grab, and push.
The holiest adherents have seasoned teams,
and a plan for getting all the best deals.
They will save hundreds on the hottest items:
large screen televisions, game systems, phones.
And given our devotion to materialism,
our faith in things to make us happy;
why are we surprised that churches in malls,
open earlier and earlier, even on Thanksgiving?
Lord, I know that shopping on Black Friday
does not make a person a devotee of materialism,
any more than attending church on Easter
makes a person a practicing Christian.
Only you can see the heart, and you alone know
whether we have sold our soul to the devil.
We can only see actions and disturbing trends:
how long until Thanksgiving ceases to exist?
The truth is what happens on Friday or Thursday
is only symptomatic of a more serious illness.
A nation that believes happiness can be bought,
that the more we have, the happier we will be.
A people whose most important consideration
is me and mine, our comforts and our stuff.
We’ve bought a lie as old as a serpent in the garden,
selling Eve and Adam on a better way to live.
And the cost to us—and to others is enormous,
if only we could see, if only we would listen.
Lord, we—your people are tempted to raise our hands
in complete surrender—to Black Thursday;
what could we possibly do to alter the course
of cultural tides already cut so deep and wide?
Maybe nothing, maybe our culture has gone too far,
and there is nothing that can be done to save us.
Or maybe, this is the wake-up call your people need,
a day the materialism of our nation is so blatant,
so pronounced, that we cannot deny the problem
or its insidious influence on us day after day.
May we, your people, pledge ourselves to self-reflection,
and a single-minded allegiance to the Lord of Black Friday.
May we refuse to believe that happiness is in the next new box,
but affirm that joy is only in a trusting relationship with you.
May we, whatever we may do and wherever we may go,
be your presence on these days: patient and loving.
May we reclaim Thursday to be a day of Thanksgiving,
a true Holy Day to count our blessings over the past year.
And may we reclaim Sunday to be the day we begin to wait
for the Messiah who faces down money changers in Holy Places.
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