Thursday, December 15, 2011

Advent 3

Thanks Giving

Fourth Thursday in November, a holiday celebrated in the states. First celebrated by in 1621 by the first pilgrims arriving in New England (America) from England. It was a meal to thank God for their save arrival. Traditionally meals like that held to thank God for harvests or deliverance etc. Became a national annual practice in 1863, instituted by Abraham Lincoln after the Civil War. Beautiful. Wonderful. Let’s have a meal and thank God for his blessings, favour and protection, for family and loved ones and freedom and hope.

Black Friday

Black Friday is the Friday that follows on from the Thursday of Thanks Giving. Traditionally it is the beginning of the Christmas shopping season and there are normally massive sales to get people into the shopping ‘spirit.’ Not a traditional holiday but many no-retail employees give their staff the day off. Black Friday because shops are in the ‘black,’ in the profit zone.

Shops used to open early, 6:00am on Black Friday. This has been evolving over the last few years though with many starting to open first at 5:00am but now at 4:00am. In 2011 though stores such as Target, Massey’s and Best Buy decided to open at midnight. Walmart though opened on Thanks Giving at 10:00pm and Toys’R’Us at 9:00pm.

Reports regarding Black Friday shopping include...

· Police taser a shopper in an Alabama Wal-Mart amidst a scramble for bargains

· Bomb scare, police evacuate an Arizona Wal-Mart after finding an explosive.

· 55 year old woman shot by robbers outside Wal-Mart in North Carolina.

· Girls got into a punching fight at a Pennsylvania Victoria’s Secret

· Grandfather knocked unconscious in another mal

· Man charged with disorderly conduct after brawl in electronics section of another store which left two woman injured

· In 2008 a security guard was crushed to death as 200 shoppers stormed a store for bargins
Surely not the way things are meant to be at Christmas time.

How do we flick from Thanks Giving to Black Friday just like that?

As we approach the third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday, a Sunday of rejoicing, we engage in re-telling the Christmas story. To ourselves and each other.

Christmas isn’t about over indulgence. Christmas isn’t about pressure to give and buy things you can’t afford. Christmas isn’t about the cultural expectations of the Western world’s obsession with consumerism and materialism. Christmas isn’t about credit card debt that lasts for months the other side of Christmas.

Christmas is a celebration of the coming of the one who sets us free from debt, the one who brings grace, forgiveness, freedom and peace on earth!
As Christ followers we are challenged to re-tell the story.

Jesus says...

Matthew 6:3131 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Yet at Christmas we so often find ourselves asking ‘what shall we eat and drink and wear and get and have?’

This year remember to seek first the kingdom of God.

The manger was a surprising place to find a king. Always at Christmas I am surprised that God shows up in unexpected places, like the doco we watched at church on Sunday “What Would Jesus Buy?

Look for Jesus to speak and to challenge and to encourage and love in unexpected ways this Christmas season as you focus an align yourself with the ‘reason for the season.”

Don’t make your entry point to Christmas the craziness of shopping malls and bargain hunting and unfettered consuming.

Make your entry point the one who came to ‘make his blessings flow, far as the curse was found, as far as the curse was found’!

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