I thought I was ready. I went through the store ads, carefully ripping out the pages which had items I “needed” to buy. I then circled each of the best deals I would head for in each store. Since my wife, Jill, and I had decided to spend part of Friday doing some Black Friday shopping I was going to take an organized approach to this. So, when Friday morning came, I thought I was ready.
At my first stop I walked in and saw some people in line to check out, and then some more people, and then more and more and more people. I got to where there was a lady in a red elf outfit wearing a cute little hat and holding a sign that said “The Line Starts Here”, and I took out my phone and called Jill. “I can’t do it! There are hundreds of people in line to check out. I don’t care how much I am going to save, I refuse to stand in this line. I will come back in January for the Inventory Reduction sales.” As I left I saw it: “Advent Calendar.” Now, this has promise, I thought. I picked up The Advent Calendar and saw it featured the Elf on a Shelf. Who else? So this is the new meaning of Advent.
Then it was off to church to join in the decorating of the sanctuary for Advent. Having no Elf on Shelf in the Liturgical Supplies closet, we got out the Advent Wreath, only to discover we were missing three of the five candles. So, it was time to head back into Black Friday stores. At my next stop, I was greeted warmly by a young woman from our church. Maybe there was some hope for this day. While shopping, I was greeted by a girl who attends our church, and we talked about her Black Friday working experience. I could feel peace coming over me. When Jill and I checked out our receipt told us we saved way more than we spent! Now this is joy!
We headed back to church and finished placing the candles in the Advent Wreath. As I surveyed the sanctuary, now displaying the beautiful dark blues of hope and expectation, and the evergreens in a circle displaying God’s unending Love, I was struck by the starkness of the white candle in the center of the Advent Wreath. And then I understood. We wait in darkness for the light. We wait in the world, together, in the busyness of life, frantically looking for the best deals. It is in the world that we seek the signs of Hope and Peace and Joy and sometimes even Love. But it is in the community that gathers from the world into worship that we experience the coming of the Light. Millions of people spend (literally) four weeks getting ready, and it all starts on Black Friday. May they all see the Light of Christmas Eve.