Today is perhaps the one day of the year that is least likely to display the Christmas spirit. Yet today, “Black Friday” 2016, marks the annual kick-off to the Christmas holiday season. How ironic!
The on-line dictionary defines “irony” as the expression of one’s meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite; an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often amusing as a result.
When you think about it, the word “irony” really applies to the idea of “Black Friday.” It’s pretty hard to demonstrate the Christmas spirit after you’ve camped out all night in front of the store you have identified as offering the “best deal” on the Christmas gifts you’re looking to buy. That would make me a bit cranky!
Many years ago, my beloved Kim encouraged me to go early in the morning—very early in the morning—to snag a deal on something she spotted in a flyer. I set the alarm and got to the store two hours before it was scheduled to open, only to discover a line that wrapped around the store, a line made up of people who had spent the night outside the store. As for me, after only waiting for a few hours and finally getting to the open doors to actually enter the store, I was lacking a bit of the Christmas spirit, if the truth be known!
So let me encourage you today, whether you are camping out overnight or sitting it out at home, let this day mark the beginning of the Christmas spirit in each one of us. And what does that Christmas spirit look like? Exactly the opposite of Black Friday. Christmas is about giving and Black Friday is about getting. God gave us the greatest gift ever in giving us the Savior, which is Christ the Lord.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
It is not uncommon to hear this question throughout Christmas day and during the days that immediately follow it: “What did you get?” Because Christmas marks the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, the better question would be, “What did you give?” The Christmas spirit is about giving for the glory of God and the good of others. The Christmas spirit is rooted in being “other-oriented,” which is so contrary to our human nature. It takes a work of God’s grace to help us to turn outward and upward, rather than collapse inward.
So . . . how are you doing with your Christmas spirit? If you are heading out for some of those deals today, just remember to take Jesus along for the ride. Keeping Him in view will go a long way toward keeping you centered in the Christmas spirit . . . not only today, but all the way through this Christmas season.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!