I don’t care what anyone says, the Christmas season does not start till after Thanksgiving.  There will be no holly, no ivy, no silver bells or Santa Clause, no wrapping or wreaths, and certainly no caroling in my home until after the sweet potatoes and  fri-chick are in the fridge and Thanksgiving Thursday has passed into Black Friday.

I don’t like saying, “Black Friday”, especially to signify the day that I deem (and many others outside of corporate American and the retail business believe it or not) to be the first day of the Christmas season.  Christmas, a time to be more about others and less about us, to remember the manger and the merciful gift of God’s love.   Leave it to us humans to take grace and turn it into greed, and gift of love into a lust for gifts.

Do you happen to know the history of Black Friday?  It’s not pretty, but it is pretty typical of the human heart.  The term seems to have originated around 1966 when the Philadelphia police dept. began using the term to refer to the Friday after Thanksgiving.  In those days there were no really spectacular sales, just a bunch of people who were overstuffed with cranberry and stuffing and an extra day off with nothing to do.  So, they headed out in droves to the most logical place to ward off the extra weight worries: the mall…or in 1966 main street, the equivalent of today’s mall.  This created havoc both in traffic and in crowd control, not to mention the testy tempers of the in-temperate still digesting yesterdays dishes.  So, with all the havoc of the day the good men in blue began referring to this 24 hour period as “Black Friday” to symbolize their feelings.

In today’s world the most dangerous places to be on Black Friday seem to be in the Wal-mart consumer electronics departments. On Black Friday 2011, a woman pepper-sprayed a crowd at a Wal-mart in Los Angeles. She was trying to get a Wii for 60% off. The year before, crowds at a Sacramento Wal-Mart forced the store to evacuate when they started pushing and shoving to get deals on consumer electronics at 5:30 am.. On Black Friday 2009, another California Wal-Mart, this time in Rancho Cucamonga, needed police protection from unruly crowds — again, in the early-morning hours in the consumer electronics department. The store was briefly close a few hours after another store in nearby Upland was closed.The worst Black Friday occurred in 2008, when a man was trampled to death. Despite being 6’5″ and 270 pounds, temporary worker Jdimytai Damour died of asphyxiation when crowds stampeded into another Wal-Mart (this time in New York). At least 2,000 people broke down the doors, trapping Damour in a vestibule where he suffocated. Eleven other people were also injured, including a pregnant woman.

I look at these stories and compare the pictures I’ve seen of them with the scene the season is supposed to be about; a manger.  There are no large crowds making a mad dash to this scene.  No zealots camping out waiting for the gift to arrive and the doors of mercy to open.  No, in that day people were more interested in their own satisfaction than stars and the food on their table rather than the gift in the stable.  And it’s still true today.  All I need do is watch the crowds and see the feverish fervor a cheap 40-inch flat screen creates.

Now before I’m too hard on the crowd I need to remember something: I am one of them.  Greed is not indigenous to Black Friday shoppers only.  It is a trait firmly planted in every person of this world.  Though I may not be one of the mad dashers for discounts on this dark day, there are other things Satan knows will bring out the selfishness in me.  He knows just what to dangle in front of us–a 40 inch flat screen or a  few fleeting moments of lust, and we bargain away our peace for his plastic.  Satan’s store is always open, and everyday is Black Friday.

So, whenever your confronted with Satan’s super sales for your soul, remember the manger, and the love of a God that is so passionate for you He gave you the biggest and best gift He could ever imagine; His son.

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