With bellies still round from turkey, stuffing, and everything else that makes Thanksgiving so delicious, a small group of women from Lakeside (myself included) headed to brave the crowds of Black Friday Eve. I had never done the whole Black Friday thing before because I simply couldn’t find a good enough reason to drive side by side with the insane drivers of Lubbock, TX. But, this particular evening, I wasn’t the one driving. I was a thousand miles away from Lubbock drivers, and I thought, “Why not? It could be fun!”
Wal-Mart was an absolute madhouse, but luckily I had Patricia Erdman to be my personal guard. Women shrieked and then began clawing at the merchandise as the workers lifted the yellow plastic off of a set of discounted vacuums. The lines to check out were disorganized clumps to people clinging to their shopping carts, (if they had one) or clumsily trying to juggle loads of toys in their arms. We waited for a good 45 minutes to an hour to get through the line, but ultimately, we did leave Wal-Mart unscathed. That was not so true for dozens of people at Wal-marts across the nation.
Amidst the cheerful ring of Christmas melodies, shoppers punched, clawed, and even resorted to pepper spray to insure that they were able to grab those items that were at least 20% off. A grandfather in Phoenix, Arizona was handcuffed in a pool of his own blood after officers had to throw him to the ground for shoplifting. Now, we find out that he was simply trying to protect his eight-year-old grandson from a bargain thirsty mob that was about to trample him while getting their discounted video games. What a beautiful start to the Christmas season! There is nothing like a little bloody violence to get us in the Christmas spirit.
After seeing and experiencing all of this, one question plagues my mind. What are we celebrating? Obviously most of the country is celebrating their own ability to get their family superficial items of luxury before December 25th. And, in doing that we are celebrating our own wealth. Though we are “giving,” we are simply indulging in the feeling that it giving provides, or trying to appease whining children by distracting them with more toys. Does this sound brutal? Well Black Friday was pretty brutal.
Let us remember something. Away in a manger, over two thousand years ago, our Lord, the King of the Universe, entered this world in the form of a small babe. Christ was sent to us, to die for us. He was sacrificed for our own idolatry, the same idolatry we celebrate here in America during the days leading up to December 25th. We scrapple for these trivial gifts, but the real gift has already been given. What a perplexing paradox about our culture.
I challenge you in the coming days, instead of teaching your children about a fictional man in a bright red suit, to bring your children to the side of the swaddling babe, our King, in the real Christmas story. Instead of getting tightly wrapped up in the stress of tinsel and bows, unwind and take some time to reflect on the gift God has given us. We have souls that have been redeemed, set free from the bondage of sin because of God’s love for us. What a reason to celebrate! With that, I say to you, “Merry Christmas!”