Daily Dose, Nov. 24: It Happened in the Wilderness

  Alas for those who lie on beds of ivory, and lounge on their couches, eat lambs from the flock, and calves from the stall; who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp, and like David improvise on instruments of music; who drink wine from bowls, and anoint themselves with the finest oils, but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph! Therefore, they shall now be the first to go into exile, and the revelry of the loungers shall pass away. The Lord God has sworn by himself (says the Lord, the God of hosts): I abhor the pride of Jacob and hate his strongholds; and I will deliver up the city and all that is in it. (Amos 6:4-8)   Happy Black Friday, everybody! What a strange day…what a strange season…what a strange way to end a celebration of Thanksgiving and turn our attention toward a baby born in a manger. I’m sure you’ve seen some of the videos captured in retail stores on Black Friday over the last several years. It can bring out the worst in people. Parents fist-fight over little girls’ dolls. Things get fiercely and harshly competitive. Why? All because of stuff and the idea that it can be had for a good deal. It can be a dark place, a selfish place. The “wilderness” doesn’t always equate to “dry, barren, and desolate.” It can sometimes be present in the middle of abundance. Black Friday is sometimes a great example. Right there, in front of God and everybody, people’s worst selves sometimes show up. The consumer crush can be a wilderness. It’s a place that doesn’t satisfy, and it can sap the life from you. We can be in a spiritual wilderness and be surrounded by material opulence. This happened to the people of Israel too. After moving into the promised land and occupying it, they got fat and happy. They got too comfortable, and they began to look in the mirror and see the reason for their success staring back at them. It became all about them -- their comfort, their temporal happiness, and their excesses. In this circumstance, prophets like Amos spoke out and spoke up. “This isn’t right! This is not who you were made to be. Have you forgotten the One who rescued you and brought you into this place? If you keep this up, it’s not going to end well.” I’m not telling you to completely avoid the stores, the cyber-deals and the hubbub of the day. What I am saying is to put it in perspective. Ultimately, what’s the payoff for you? Does getting a good deal on a TV really make or break your week? If so, you might have things out of whack. On the day after Thanksgiving, if the biggest thing you’re thankful for is that you didn’t get in a fist-fight at 5:30 a.m. when the doors open, you may have things out of whack. Have eyes to see the “wilderness” that might be right in front of you. -- Rev. Brad Greene