A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Black Friday, Gratitude, and Contentment

St. Paul writes to the Colossians,
Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him (3:14-17).
Gratitude is the motivation for worship and all of our lives as Christians. We are thankful for what God has done for us in Jesus Christ, we are thankful for the blessings of church and home, we are thankful for all that we have received from the Lord’s hand in the provision of God's creation. We know that what we have received is not owed to us; it is not the payment of a debt the Almighty is obligated to settle on our account. Our very existence, life itself, is a gift from divine hands.

I want to suggest that part of the Black Friday pushing and shoving match may be the result of a lack of thankfulness on our part. I know some may chafe a little at that suggestion, but I think it is a proposal worth some consideration.

Now let me say clearly that I love the Christmas holiday. I enjoy the lights and the festivities and I think it is a wonderful practice of giving gifts to family and friends. I suppose there are those who go overboard in that respect, but all good things can be overdone. And I also know that those who brave the melee of Black Friday are there to get gifts for others. But what concerns me is that we have unwittingly created a context where saving a buck reveals our lack of gratitude for our current blessings in a society that already has been blessed with more than most other nations on earth. And, yes, I know that many people are hurting financially as we enter another holiday season, but should we not ask as those who have more than enough in the way of stuff, whether gratitude should lead to contentment rather than pushing and shoving and racing to acquire more before those around us take what we want? St. Paul tells the Philippians that he has learned to be content in all situations-- "I have had plenty and I have been in want he says." Paul's words there are set in the context of gratitude as well (4:11-12).

Gratitude is not revealed in acquiring more stuff for ourselves and our loved ones expecting employees to cut short their Thanksgiving holiday so we can get that stuff. Gratitude is revealed in contentment-- contentment for what we have and the blessings we have received, so that we might bless others in need. Perhaps if we were more concerned about passing gratitude on to our children and grandchildren, we might show them by our way of life what it means to be content. Perhaps instead of participating in the Black Friday Greedfest, we could stay at home and spend some family time with them

Being with our children or buying for them-- which is ultimately the more valuable gift we can give to them?

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