Dec 012008

Have you ever thought about the term,”Black Friday?”

I realize that the Friday after Thanksgiving has been given this unfortunate moniker because for most retailers, it’s the big shopping day that puts them “in the black” for the year. But…have you ever thought about the symbolism of the color black?

In Western culture, black is often used to connote absence, wealth, evil, death, fear, anonymity, anger, sadness, remorse, mourning, unhappiness, rebellion, and sorrow – just to name a few. How fitting that a day devoted to consumerism and spending, which has contributed to the devastating economic crisis in our country, is also associated with the color of evil and darkness.

Over the weekend, we heard many disturbing stories related to Black Friday. We heard of a local family who spent their entire Thanksgiving Day in an RV, parked in the Best Buy parking lot. They even cooked their Thanksgiving dinner there so that they could be sure to get first spot in line when the store opened the next day. They gave up a day that is supposed to be devoted to giving thanks for what you have, because they were so desperate to have more, more, more. I hate to break it to them, but I have a friend who went to Best Buy at 3:00 PM, and nearly all of the items that were advertised at special prices between “4 AM and 1 PM ONLY!” were still there, offered at the same sale prices.

We were at Menards on Saturday afternoon, and with the exception of 1 item, all of the special “Black Friday Toy Bargains!” were still readily available at the “special” prices that were supposedly only good until 11:00 AM on Friday. It’s sad how many people don’t realize that special sale events are nothing more than a marketing gimmick to get people to buy more stuff. Studies have shown that these types of sales stimulate our natural hoarding instinct, so we buy far more than we typically would. It’s all a ploy.

The saddest Black Friday story I heard is of a temporary worker at a New York Wal-Mart, who was actually trampled to death by a crowd of 2000 greedy shoppers. A life was lost because of materialism and greed, and to me, this is what really makes Black Friday black – all of the people who are walking in darkness, who’ve turned their backs on God, and who now worship at the altar of stuff. Black Friday, as my pastor says, is all about “the desire to acquire gone haywire.”

My husband and I refuse to shop on Black Friday. We will not participate, not only because we don’t want to fight the crowds and the craziness, but because we believe that as Christians, we must set ourselves apart from the materialism of the world. This is not always easy to do, but Christianity is not for the weak-kneed. It is an intense and ongoing battle to be in the world, but not of it. True Christianity is a decision that must be followed by a change, and the Bible commands us to

“Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”
(1 Timothy 6:12).

I believe that in order to fight the good fight of the faith, I must leave behind anything that may tempt me to sin, and covetousness is a sin. When among a crowd of people who are heaping stuff in their carts with abandon, it’s very easy to fall victim to the “More Monster.” He whispers in your ear, “MORE. You need MORE.”

Sadly, the desire for more eventually makes us forget all about what’s really important. If we’re not careful, we could easily be like those shoppers in New York. For them, the blackness of the world has blocked out the light of God in their lives. Their greed actually caused a person to suffer and die and they didn’t even notice.

They were too busy shopping.