Nothing can take the meaning out of Thanksgiving like Black Friday.
Wednesday evening I gathered together with my congregation for a Thanksgiving Celebration. It was a great service, a chance to reflect on the many blessings God has given to us. We sang those familiar hymns of Thanksgiving, “Come Ye, Thankful People Come” and “We Gather Together to Ask The Lord’s Blessings”. I shared about my obsession with writing instruments starting with crayons, through 4 color click Bic pens to Magnum Sharpies and how we all seem to struggle for contentment.
We read Scriptures that remind us of our need to be thankful, and the need for contentment:
Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!
I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord.
Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.
Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles.
Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only;
for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need.
Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account.
I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.
And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Greet all the saints in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me send greetings.
All the saints send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
Philippians 4:1-23 (NIV)
We went home from worship feeling truly thankful.
On Thanksgiving day we gathered with family around a table laden with good food which the Lord so richly provides. As a family we heard about the origins of Thanksgiving and read the proclamation from George Washington in 1789
By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor– and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be– That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation–for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war–for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed–for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted–for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.
and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions– to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually–to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed–to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord–To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us–and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.
We enjoyed like so many a filling meal, and even took the opportunity to share what we are thankful for in the past year. We even watched a little football, even in our divided home there was peace through the game.
BUT THEN…Black Friday.
There are many stories behind the origin of the Black Friday. Some suggest it came from the days of slavery in this country where slave owners would sell their slaves the day after thanksgiving at a discount to help the plantation owners get ready for winter, extra wood to cut and preparations to be made. While others suggest it started in the 50’s to describe the people calling in sick after Thanksgiving to take a long weekend.
It’s also been suggested that it was first used by Philadelphia police, in response to all the mayhem and headaches caused by all the people and traffic created by hordes of shoppers heading for the city’s downtown stores on the two days after Thanksgiving. The latest use of the phrase began in the 1980’s as people claimed it marked the first day that retailers began to go from the “red” of cash losses to the “black” of cash profits.
I propose yet another reason for the name Black Friday.
It is Black Friday for it is the day that so many seem to have lost sight of their thankfulness from just hours earlier and we leave our prayers of contentment and replace them with our desire for bargains and our greed for the latest and greatest toys! Now we and many retailers are not even content to wait until Black Friday to cast off our thankfulness and cash in on the frenzy of our self centered greed.
Makes me wonder what will happen to our thoughts and prayers today (Sunday) come Cyber Monday… sure am glad I didn’t preach today, Thanks pastor Don!
SOMETHING TO PONDER: What strikes you in the contrast from Thanksgiving to Black Friday? Share it in the comments below we would love to hear from you.