He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
-Jesus (Luke 10:27)
Great news everybody! Black Friday now starts on Wednesday at 10pm online! What’s so wonderful about this is that now, after we buy things, we will finally have something to be thankful for when Thanksgiving morning rolls around! And to make things even better, Walmart has also announced that Thursday night at 6pm the stores will begin their deals as well, so we can get right back at it before the gratitude wears off. Because, honestly, one day is NOT enough to contain Black Friday!!!
"Black Friday must become greater, Thanksgiving must become less."
I think John the Baptist might have said something like that? Hmm, I might be mixing it up a little. You should definitely look it up in John 3:30 just to be sure.
[For those who are less familiar with sarcasm, let me make it clear that I feel the opposite of everything written above.]
Friends, we are expanding the wrong things.
Black Friday is getting larger and larger. And our gratitude is shrinking. Our celebration is shrinking. Our margin for joy and peace is shrinking. Our space for spiritual transformation is shrinking. Our contentment and our rest…. it’s all shrinking.
And this should not surprise us, because it’s how humanity works.
What we truly value will always take up more and more space in our lives.
And what we worship will always expand into other areas and push out everything else.
So the cultural phenomenon before us at the end of every November becomes an opportunity for us to sit up, take notice, and ask ourselves…
What do I value? What’s taking up the most space?
What do I worship? What is creeping into all areas of my life?
The temptation is to join with the movement of the crowd, as consumption slowly eclipses thanksgiving. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The beauty and freedom of being in Christ is that we have the power to make decisions for ourselves because our hearts and minds are being made new. We are not pawns or lemmings. We are little Christs, tiny representations of the one who creates, invites, and makes a way for the good life to be experienced now and forever. At least, that’s what’s available. Whether it expands in us or not is our call.
Lately I’ve decided to re-engage with the practice of gratitude. I’m turning it into a lifestyle, letting it take up more space and expand into other areas of my life. I’m trying to not let a day pass without writing words of gratitude to God, and expressing words of gratitude to others. I’m attempting to let Thanksgiving start early this year. Take that, Walmart! I can do it too.
The Church is called to live in such a way that wakes people up to the reality that God’s upside-down kingdom is at hand. We get to live with a love, a contentment, and a sense of purpose with Jesus that continually takes up more space in our lives. It expands beyond our worship gatherings and into our workdays. Beyond our meal communities and into our family meals. Beyond our prayer times and into our friendships.
This isn’t about Black Friday. Make your own choices on how to handle all that. It’s about what’s expanding in your own life. What is being given room to grow and take over? Jesus spoke of the kingdom as a mustard seed- an invasive plant that would expand and take over everything around it once it got rooted. I love that image. Together, let’s invite the values of Jesus to get larger and larger and permeate every area of our lives. Let’s remind Walmart that our kingdom can expand even more broadly than theirs.
Jesus, expand into every area of my life. Let no moment be untouched by your love, grace, and hope.