Some families or girlfriend groups make a sporting tradition of the occasion, taking the day to compete for bargains and shop together. That's cool -- sort-of. Great that it gets families together. Great that it helps the economy shake off a lethargic fall sales. But ...
I'm going to issue an unwelcome challenge today, based on this question: "Are our traditions and celebrations built more around American values than God's pleasure?"
But what does Black Friday memorialize, with its rituals of spending precious life/time marking out deals and routes to stores? Of lining up in the early morning hours for the best bargain? Of spending beyond our budgets to buy things we want but don't need? Of pushing others aside for our "right" in a competition to snatch up temporal goods?
SOME of you have! And kudos to you. God recognizes the honor due you and will reward every deed done in secret, every effort done for his Glory. He has said he will not share his glory with any others, gods or human. So when we glorify ourselves and stuff, how will God respond to us?
At SBL last week (a conference of Bible scholars), presenters commented on the rituals of societies. Like us, the peoples of scripture celebrated passages of time, rites of birth, puberty, marriage, and death, and other significant times of life. The Canaanites of biblical times ritually sacrificed humans, as did later Aztecs, to appease their gods and ensure prosperity.
- What is important? - to God - and to His Church - and to us / me? Do these values align?
- How am we demonstrating our core values? Has the world pressed us into its mold?
- How can we glorify God and bless others in the coming Christmas season by living by true and eternal values?
- Once the shopping season and Christmas celebrations are over, what will remain? Trash and wrapping paper? Excess stuff jammed into closets and cupboards? Fights over who got the best gift? Disappointment that we didn't get the present we hoped for?
Will you and I waken to the New Year with a sense of satisfaction, brimming with soul treasures and memories of God-among-us in His Presence and Glory? That's my desire! What's your deepest wish for Christmas this year?
*God said, “I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.” Genesis 9:13
*Show me your glory, I pray. Exodus 33:18
*Then Jesus took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to the disciples, and all of them drank from it. He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.” Mark 14:23-24
*Jesus revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. John 2:11
Moravian Prayer: Lord, we admit that it is often personal glory that we seek. Today let us seek your glory; for when we see it fully we will be blessed. That blessing is far greater reward than any personal achievement. Together we look both outward and inward to see your presence.
Father, you give us signs of your promises each day. Help us to be aware of the signs you show us today. Amen.