Beyond Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Thanksgiving was great! We had much to be thankful for as our extended family celebrated together.  And yet, we couldn’t miss the stories of people camping out to shop on Friday morning.  This incredible display of material addiction assaulted our sense and tempted us at every turn.  It didn’t end.  Monday it continued its rising tide with record reports.  The onslaught of things I (apparently?) need to fill the hole in my heart is both dazzling and depressing. And yet,  . . . in the midst of this onslaught came a true blessing.  I think there is something in the commandment to “Honor the Sabbath and keep it holy.”  We went to worship Sunday (my bride of 35+ years was the lay reader at Arborlawn!).  I found worship settling to my soul and challenging to my spirit.  The music, prayers, preaching, and liturgy all were a blessing.  In a deeply perceptive bulletin insert article, Rev. Bryan Bellamy wrote on “Christmas Joy.”  “This [the message of Isaiah 64:1-9] stands in stark contrast to the commercially driven, over-the-top, Christmas ‘spirit’ that surrounds us presently – a message that pushes overspending,  overdrinking, over-hoping, over-getting and over-giving.”  He quoted Bishop Will Willimon. “The hope for us is that we are out of hope and we know it.  We dare not rush to greet the  redeemer prematurely until we pause here, in the darkened church, to admit that we do need redemption.  Nothing within us can save us.  Nothing can save us.  We’ve tried that before.” Such wisdom is truly good news and genuine cause for rejoicing.  “Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee!”  Honoring the Sabbath in worship put things back in perspective for me.  I hope it did so for you. Oh, and for those of you needing gift ideas.  How about giving to something in honor of a loved one as your gift?  As Michael Slaughter reminds us, “Christmas is not your birthday.”  You might try a life saving gift through “Imagine No Malaria.”  You can do so by giving through your local church to “Imagine No Malaria” (INM).  Just note on the check that the gift is for “Imagine No Malaria.”  Churches remit the INM funds to our office on a Remittance Form, Fund #622.  $10 saves a life.