“Where are you God?” cries Isaiah in the lectionary reading for this first Sunday of Advent. “Show me the money!” is the cry that overshadows the season. Perhaps we need an OCCUPY Malls. What is important to us as individuals and as a nation?
Christmas has always had its secular side. Drawn as it was from more pagan celebrations that included excess of every kind, it is not surprising that remnants of those bawdier days still cling to the Christmas season. However, I can still remember Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parades that weren’t such blatant commercials for the many products that are advertised in the new balloons that sail overhead. How did we allow Black Friday to infringe on the one holiday that had been sancrosanct? Are we a nation that is based on the bottom line retail sales that vie for our dollars in these festive days? What matters to us anymore?
Money, greed and power seem to be ruling our lives. Those in power who hold onto the money only want more for themselves. There is no thought to those who are needy except to say: “Get a job, take a bath, work harder.” We have turned the idea of offering a hand to someone who needs help to a belief that anyone who needs help is somehow inferior or hasn’t worked hard enough. I know a 50+ man who works at a grocery store doing manual labor. He works harder every day than any white collar worker I know. And yet he is struggling to keep his family’s health insurance and to pay for his car insurance.
We are a nation of great opportunity and wealth. The spirit and greatness of our land has always been its desire to be good. That has seemed to turn into a desire to feel good. Our worry about our own comforts to the exclusion of others makes me wonder who we are anymore. How many homes, boats, cars, vacations, does one person or family need to feel good? How can anyone enjoy an excessive life-style knowing that there are others who are not so fortunate?
Advent comes to the northern hemisphere and brings darkness to the land. Hope and expectation are evident in the many lights that shine all over town – decorations that appear on store fronts and the front doors of our homes. We wait for a king who does not bring the riches of this world to our lives, though. Can we be content with the God given gifts that are laid at our feet? Compassion, hope, love, peace, justice – how will we work to bring these long awaited blessings to our world?
They are certainly not to be found in a store today, on Black Friday, the day that has come to determine the direction of our economy. How sad.