The Black Friday Scramble

The alarm went off.

ImageIt was Black Friday morning. Yet, my eyes did not open. My arm swiftly, and instinctively reached out from the covers into the cool morning air and hit the snooze alarm only to retreat again into the warmth of sleep. Silence and bliss descended once more. Just 10 more minut…

Somewhere, at that exact moment, there were people already standing in lines, waiting for their chance to claim the hottest bargain of the year. Nervous retail workers glanced up through the locked glass doors, avoiding the hard gaze of the waiting horde desperate for any sign of welcome. The crowd thickens; the tension as well.

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This annual consumer dance is reserved only for the coldest of hearts and the clenchest of jaws. Not so much in Canada though. In fact, if I am not mistaken this is the first year where I noticed a pervasive “Black Friday” marketing strategy here. Last year there was only a local sprinkling of the well known American tradition. Despite this, the deals here weren’t that amazing. Not at all like I have heard from our American friends or Canadians that travel down to join in. No, I think our version was a well executed scheme to keep Canadian shoppers at home, enticed with just enough of a discount to question the effort to make the trip. Before we all cry “shame!”, perhaps we owe our retailers our lives?

It did not take long for online videos to surface of shoppers engaged in violent exchanges over $5 items. Some lost their lives being trampled by fellow bargain hunters. When their eyes opened that morning, could they ever have imagined it would be their last?

It is a day that is becoming a condensed symbol of the entire empty reality of the modern Christmas season. Black Friday was once referred to as the day of the year where retailers finally make it out of “ledger red” and into the black. Now it represents the fitting picture of the darkness of consumerism, greed, anxiety and now violence. It now paves the way to Christmas time. Canada already has one of these. We call it Boxing Day, the day after Christmas. What a wonderful time of the year! A time marked by pressure, anxiety and stress.

This is not how God intended to mark the advent of His Salvation to the world. Ironically, it is supposed to be a time of peace and rest to all people. There was a time when I seriously worried what will become of Christmas.

But there is hope! I have noticed in the last few years the increasing embrace of the Advent in worship. Whereas Christmas is the intense celebration of one solitary day, Advent is a thoughtful and patient journey in the weeks leading up to it. A time of reflecting; the seeking into our own hearts and souls. A time of preparing ourselves to receive the gift of the One we call Saviour. As we embrace this journey, we will find peace. We will find rest amid the busyness and activity of this season. While others scramble for the elusive prize, contentment fills our souls as we fix our gaze on our coming King, Emmanuel – God with us. Like that first evening in Bethlehem, true Christmas joy will once again shine it’s light in the darkness! It will draw people to Peace. They will come find their salvation and worship Him.

This season, celebrate early. Jesus is here to find, but we need to be shopping in a different place.

 

Photo Credit: Unknown
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