Yesterday I read on the Internet that a Pizza Hut manager was fired for refusing to open his restaurant on Thanksgiving. Seems as though consumerism has encroached on the few occasions that have traditionally been reserved for nothing but family celebration.
It’s not the cost of airfares or our attempt to maintain two residences, in nations that are separated by 10,000 miles, that is our greatest expense. Attempting to increase options in a third world nation carries a steep price in terms of our biological family back in Oregon.
It’s Friday morning in Uganda and the term Black Friday has absolutely no meaning here. If the nostalgia atmosphere we woke with yesterday was all we had we might be having our own “black” Friday. But the Lord has gifted Pam and me, among other things, with an African family.
We woke this morning with great anticipation. Today we are starting our own African Thanksgiving. A couple of our African kids arrived from Kampala last night. Most of the rest of them will gather with us tonight. And, we will celebrate the goodness of the Lord together with kikayli .(chick-a-lie).. a delicious African pork dish … and apple and pumpkin pie … a traditional American dessert. We will worship together. We will share stories from our lives with each. Stories from our personal lives that declare the grace of God. And we will share communion.
Survival better describes the history of all of these kids rather than consumerism. One acknowledged that each of the others originated in severe poverty … and it is true. They know what it is like to sleep hungry and to have only one or two changes of clothes. Only one has a vehicle and all are used to depending on public transportation and a lot of walking. They have a historical identity with two thirds of the population of the world … that of being genuinely poor.
The day before Thanksgiving I commented on an American friend’s post about the irony of Thanksgiving and Black Friday. I wrote
Addressing some of the foundational questions such as “Who am I?’ and “Why am I here?” can help some of us transition out of the default system of the powerful feeding on the powerless to a culture of gratitude and grace. I trust I’m in the process.
One of the Psalmist included this statement in the lyrics of his lengthy song: I rise at midnight to thank You. Our Father has given us EVERYTHING that pertains to life and godliness. Entitlement is not the character of the Eternal Family. Grace brings blessings. How we use these blessings, in gratitude, is what matters.
Followers of Christ are beneficiaries of God’s grace. The love of our Father, through His Firstborn Son, has given us a new identity as part of a new creation and culture. We are sons of God, intent on accirately representing the character of our Father. This is who we are.
Far too many believers are bored with their misunderstood Christianity. Following Christ and being ALL IN, as Mark Batterson describes it, results in the most amazing adventure available to man. Our purpose is to follow Christ. We are here to manifest, demonstrate, and exhibit the marvelous grace of God in gratitude.
It’s not a day. It’s not an event. It’s a lifestyle that may push us out of bed at midnight to thank Him.