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Commentary by Pastor Bruce Ray

With stores opening on Thanksgiving Day for door-buster shopping for the first time, I asked myself (and others), “Is nothing sacred?”   Maybe Thanksgiving never was sacred since one could always find an open grocery store for last minute items, but there was something disturbing this year about Black Friday oozing insidiously into Thursday. Loosening our purse strings is more urgent than loosening our belts around the table with family.  Feeding the meters takes priority over feeding the homeless.  This shift made me realize all over again that Black Friday and Christmas consumption is its own form of worship in our culture.

Think about it.  We are told that through participation in the rituals of shopping, our life will improve.  In fact, everyone’s lives will improve.  The economy will stabilize, our families will be healed, peace and harmony will increase and the world will be saved.  So we head off to the temples of commerce to the strains of holiday songs.  We encourage our children to stand in line to reveal their secret desires to a mysterious father figure, who promises that their prayers will be answered.  The high priests of Walmart and Target promise special rewards to the faithful who hold vigil outside their doors.  We walk the labyrinth of aisles until we deposit our sacrificial offerings into the holy cash registers.  And we believe the hype and we trust in the hope.

Maybe I’m just a crotchety old man, but I’m going the way of Scrooge.  Bah!  Humbug!  I’m tired of the hype, and I’ve lived long enough to know the hope is false.  I refuse to worship at the Church of the Open Door Busters this year.  I want to sit in the quietness of candlelight and reflect on the Love that stooped to share flesh.  I want to be immersed in the glorious drama of light overcoming darkness and be awed by the Gift.  I want to give myself to the One of all-surpassing value and lift up what is eternal.  Amazon.com doesn’t–and never will–have what I want in stock.

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