It is late morning on Black Friday as I write this entry. The reports of lunacy are already starting to roll in through social media. Getting into a brawl to save a few dollars on an item is not my idea of fun, but apparently it is all worth it for some folks.
I understand that the nation's economy, especially for retailers, depends upon the Christmas shopping extravaganza which has officially kicked off into full swing now for 2015. Many retailers operate all year in the red until this treasured time of year enters into the picture. Spending habits during the next 30 days will give a significant snapshot of how healthy (or unhealthy) our economy actually is. These days are important for the financial well-being of our nation's economy.
Shopping is part of the tradition of preparing for Christmas. However, I hope we don't miss the bigger picture of preparing the way of the Lord during the upcoming Advent season. As world events continue to play out in dramatic fashion, it would behoove all of us to prepare for those aspects of life which have eternal significance.
Chicago, Baltimore, and Ferguson demonstrate the racial unrest in our own country. The presidential campaign has highlighted just how divided our country is on many different political and cultural issues. Political correctness has ruined the lives and livelihoods of more than just a few. Dialogue and compromise are no longer part of the equation. Serving the common good can hardly be seen by our elected officials. There is a thirst for power, money, and perks that can only be achieved if one stays in office. Thus, it is all about getting re-elected no matter the cost to the constituency.
If elected officials are more interested in doing well for themselves rather than doing good for the people they serve, we are destined for some difficult days. Personal agendas become the driving force behind decision-making when integrity is compromised for any reason. Frequently, we can simply follow the money. Who is financially backing a candidate? Is that why they "evolved" on a particular issue? (They no longer flip-flop on a position. They evolve to a greater understanding.)
If Pope Francis is correct and World War III has begun in piece-meal fashion, our way of life could be impacted immensely here in the United States. There have always been "hot-spots" of violence and chaos throughout the world, but it is different now. Technology and advanced weaponry will obviously shift the methodology of war in the modern era. Countries who didn't get involved in the past have the capability of engaging in the conflict now, and some of these entities do not have our best interest in mind.
The detrimental aspect for the United States that is different now than in the past is our divided country. In times past we came together during a time of crisis. Those days are over. Every crisis now is immediately turned into an opportunity to pursue a particular item on one's political agenda. Leaders and statesmen are difficult to find. If we are unable to correct this flaw among the Washington elites, we can kiss our freedom and way of life good-bye. Black Friday shopping will simply be a distant memory.
Where is the hope in all of this? God continues to call us into relationship. As you listen to the Scripture readings--especially on the first two Sundays of Advent--keep in mind that we are pilgrims on a journey. Make a commitment to be a person of deep and fervent prayer. Respond to God's grace and love. Be a saint! Pray for good and holy leaders to step forward in all walks of life.