We Are About Relationships
Sunday nights are not very productive for me. After a full morning of worship and Sunday School, a full evening of Disciple Bible study, and the last minute scramble to get the kids packed up and ready for school the next morning, I’m just not much good for anybody after 9:30 p.m. on Sundays. Sometimes I have the energy to read a book. Other times, I just go on to bed. But every once in a while, David and I will flop down on the couch and watch Sunday Night Football. It doesn’t really matter who is playing. In fact, it’s better if I don’t really care who wins, because it removes any emotional involvement from the game. We can just watch with detachment and turn it off when the soothing voices of Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth start putting us to sleep.
I’ll be honest, I have mixed feelings about the whole football culture in America, which I won’t go into here. But whatever my mixed feelings are, I do from time to time enjoy tuning in. And whenever I do, I gain a lot of insight into what’s going on in the culture around us. I see what the latest T.V. shows are about, who’s making the news, and what people value. Usually, it’s the commercials that give me the most insight.
So, on Sunday night there was this commercial for Verizon. I’m wondering if any of you saw it. The announcer was yammering on about smart phones and new deals that were being offered, and I sort of tuned out. Then the commercial ended with the tagline: “Get ready for Thanksgetting.”
Thanksgetting? Wait. Really? As soon as I heard that, my heart sank. I have always loved Thanksgiving because it’s one holiday that, so far, has escaped commercialization. There are no gifts given on Thanksgiving Day. The only money spent is on food or travel. It’s a day to gather around a table and break bread with family or other people you love. Food, fellowship and gratitude are at the heart of this simple and lovely holiday. Since food, fellowship and gratitude are also at the heart of the Christian faith, I have often felt that Thanksgiving has become a more spiritual holiday than many others.
But in recent years the “Christmas Shopping Season” has creeped closer and closer to Thanksgiving Day. We’ve all seen the pictures of people lined up in the middle of the night to be the first ones in the door at Best Buy on Black Friday. And we’ve seen the disheartening videos of deal-crazed shoppers tackling each other to get at the newest X-Box. Now, it’s no longer just Black Friday. The shopping frenzy begins on Thanksgiving evening. No sooner have we eaten our turkey and said our prayers of thanks than we are out the door searching for the latest gadget to fulfill our desires.
Is Thanksgiving really becoming Thanksgetting? Could it be that the day of thanks itself will be swallowed up by our culture’s insatiable desire for more, more, more? Are we ready to totally jettison the idea of giving thanks so that we can get on with our “getting?” I don’t mean to be a downer or to overreact to a dumb commercial, but I see something much more fundamental at stake here. What I think we’re facing is the great sin of our culture: greed. Miriam Webster’s simple definition of greed is “a selfish and excessive desire for more of something than is needed.” So what do you think? Are we guilty?
Jesus told his followers, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed” (Luke 12:15) As followers of Jesus, we need to watch out for greed in ourselves and in our world. And we need to remember that we have a great antidote to greed: gratitude. The spiritual practice of gratitude can help us be content with what we have and can deepen our trust in the providence of God. It’s not always easy to give thanks for life as it is right now, but the more we can practice being grateful, the more at peace we will be. Even in the midst of all the mall traffic.
May you be deeply grateful this day for the love and mercy and generosity of God, who has created you and called you beloved.