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December 2, 2019
Image result for black friday

My favorite blog comes from James Emery White. It’s titled, Church and Culture. If you like reading good blogs, I recommend it. In the one I got most recently, he sited a statistic about Black Friday that I thought I’d pass along:

According to a survey by SlickDeals, more than half of us hit the stores on Black Friday. And on average, those of us who did planned to spend more than $500 that day alone.

More than half of us?! With plans to spend that much?! It makes me glad I hunkered down and had another piece of pumpkin pie on Friday morning. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a Black Friday guy, but I have nothing against those who are.

I heard of some people getting up and in line for store openings before 5:00 a.m. on Friday. There’s no other way to insure you’ll get the amazing Black Friday deals. You’ve got to be there early to make sure you get in at the front of the stampede. Big TVs. Laptops. Tablets. Toys. If you snagged a bargain, way to go! Somebody will be pretty happy when they unwrap your bargain on Christmas morning.

Image result for cyber monday

For people like me, who missed Black Friday, there’s Cyber Monday. Hot-diggity! More fabulous deals and bargains! Though I don’t have solid statistics on it, my guess is that far less than half of us will have been up early for Cyber Monday. Most of us who do Cyber Monday will be doing it in our pajamas on our laptop or tablets. Or pretending we’re working at our desk…

I’m given to understand that these are the two biggest days of the year for retailers. With the economy back on track and on the upswing, I’d guess this year could be a banner year. I don’t begrudge this to the retailers. In fact, I hope they do exceedingly well this year. I’ll benefit from their good fortune.

I have to admit, though, that there’s a part of me that resists what I think is reflected in the craziness of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Motive gets reflected. The cleanest motive for a consumer on these two days is to purchase items for gifting that will make life better for their loved ones, while saving the gifter many dollars. This is good stewardship.

I wonder if this motive sometimes gets shoved aside for less noble ones, though. It’s easy to get caught up in the mob mentality that fuels the desire to spend and acquire, and then spend some more. When I’m saving that much money, why would I not spend some more? And while I’m at it, I think I may just gift myself with a few of these fantastic bargains. If I were a conspiracy theorist, I’d say there was some kind of conspiracy to drag us into this. Unfortunately, no conspiracy is needed.

In the blog I mentioned up top, James White offers a challenge to join what he calls the Advent Conspiracy. What if we conspired to pull ourselves and our families away from the consumerism that’s so easy to get caught up in, and point ourselves and our families to the real heart of Christmas?

It’s pretty hard for a baby in a manger to compete with a smokin’ hot laptop with a 10th generation i7 processor. I get that. Boy, do I get that. I’d love to have that smokin’ hot laptop. There’s really nothing morally wrong with giving or getting smokin’ hot laptops, or wanting to. It’s just that bigger, better, faster, sleeker stuff isn’t what Christmas is about.

Right. You know that. Christmas is about God leaving the perfection of heaven and coming to earth in a most unexpected way to become human. It’s about a teen mom, a baby in a manger, and shepherds and angels. And then two years later, wise men from the East. It’s about the greatest gift ever given.

It’s a sentimental holiday. I think it should be. Is there anything quite as sentiment-evoking than the mental picture of a newborn baby, wrapped in strips of cloth and laid in a feed trough?

When I zoom out and look at the actual meaning of Christmas, the stuff that it so often gets made about fades far into the background. What has been called hyper consumerism seems so wrong against the backdrop of the greatest gift ever given. The drive to consume, to acquire, to buy always leaves us empty. The new wears off of even the finest gifts we give or get. That smokin’ hot laptop will soon not be smokin’.

When we get caught in the vortex of a consumerism that spins faster and faster with every pass day until Christmas, we worship less, spend more, give less, struggle more.  And that’s really not what any of us want. More than acquisition, more than charging our credit cards to their limits to give fabulous, even epoch gifts, we want meaning. We want to somehow recapture – or for some, capture for the first time – the wonder of Christmas. Even if we don’t exactly know the nature of that wonder, we want something more.

In his blog, James White asks, “What would it look like if we took this Christmas and worshipped fully, spent less, gave more and loved all? And did it in the name of Jesus, for Jesus, to Jesus, and in honor and celebration of the birthday of Jesus?”

That’s the conspiracy I want to challenge you and your family to join. The Advent Conspiracy. No previous experience necessary. No background required. Just the sincere desire to make this Christmas different in the best possible ways. And the willingness to retool some longstanding habits and ways of thinking.

To join the Advent Conspiracy means to conspire against the flow of culture, and set new, more meaningful objectives for ourselves and our families. Objectives that have little to do with our own creature comforts and acquisition, and more to do with liberality and goodwill toward men. Even men we don’t know.

Float the idea to your family and invite them to join you. Brainstorm ways they think you could all conspire to come back to the real meaning and wonder of Christmas. And then fill you soul by doing this Christmas differently.

From → Marriage, Parenting

  1. Dana Leong permalink

    I think you can affirm Christmas as the Birth of Jesus without bringing in the existence of consumerism. You first said that you have “nothing against” such and such, but then launch into a tirade about spending money for presents. None of the people I know do this type of frenetic shopping. I think you can affirm the good without bringing the other stuff in. It makes you sound grouchy and judgmental. And I don’t think that that is the proper attitude for this special season.

    • Honestly, Diane, I have no ax to grind. I just know how easily we lose sight of the deepest meaning of Christmas and gift giving. I’m glad your friends have this under control. Have a wonderful Christmas season.

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