A more recent phenomena which has come to these shores from the USA centres on what we call Black Friday. It seems the drive for a bargain is all consuming in the minds of some, even though they may not particularly need the item they are purchasing. What matters most is simply that it is a bargain, and it carries with it a sense of fulfilment at having got more than we expected for our money. The sudden scramble which comes from all this frantic and frenetic activity leaves me a little bit cold, but we also have to acknowledge that this is of help to many smaller business companies too, who in turn provide employment in their shops and through online retail. We live in a consumer society - it is a fact of life, and it impacts on so many areas of our daily living.
I have to be careful not to be guilty of hypocrisy here, because I have to confess that I too like a bargain from time to time. Whenever I enter a department store, usually on the coattails of Debbie, I tend to make my way to the bargain shelf. Debbie claims that I have a Sat Nav. in my head programmed, “bargain basement. I do remember a few years ago going into a well-known department store in Carlisle and making my way to that very spot. As usual, I wasn’t alone but one lady standing next to me picked up a boxed nativity set with all the customary figures, except this one had a label attached to it saying, “no baby Jesus.” She exclaimed, “What good is a nativity without the baby Jesus!” I have always remembered her words, because perhaps unbeknown to her the response she gave carries with it a profound and timeless truth.
The question is still as relevant today as it ever was, what use is a nativity without Jesus? There is greater momentum these days to take the vital Christian religious element out of Christmas. No religious stamps, and replacement titles for Christmas such as Winterfest are becoming the norm. Whether people hold to religious belief or not, surely the message of the angels announcing Christ’s birth and peace and goodwill to all people is more needed than ever. I believe society will be all the poorer, and the annual Christmas rush, push and drive towards commercialism, with instant everything, satisfaction on demand, will sadly become ever more prevalent. We have something infinitely precious to celebrate as Christians at Christmas. We know, in the coming of Jesus, we have been given the greatest gift of all, a gift not just for Christmas but for all time. Hopefully, the world will come to its senses and realise that this gift goes to the heart of all our needs and hopes in life, and the wonder of it is that it is absolutely free.
Peace and Joy