Doug Johnson: Black Friday shows holiday priorities can be out of line

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 20, 2022


lack Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is touted as the biggest shopping day of the year.

It’s called Black Friday because many stores receive as much as 40 percent of their annual income during the Christmas shopping season.

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With all the gift-buying frenzy going on right now, I can’t help but wonder if something is missing.

A few years ago, Black Friday turned into a tragedy when 2,000 “out of control” people lined up in front of Walmart in Long Island, New York at 5 a.m.

Then they broke down the doors, killing a male Walmart employee, and trampled four other people including a woman who was eight months pregnant!

Even EMS workers were trampled while trying to save the man. Other employees jumped on top of vending machines to keep from getting injured from the mob.

What’s even worse is, that when store officials announced they were closing because of the man’s death, customers shouted angrily and kept shopping.

They complained that they had been lined up outside the store since Thanksgiving morning.

When thousands of people step over a man they just killed and show no remorse for it, something is terribly wrong!

I believe our priorities are out of line.

Webster’s Dictionary defines Christmas as the annual celebration of the birth of Christ, observed on Dec. 25.

Notice there’s quite a few things missing in that definition: there’s no mention of Santa Claus, Rudolph the reindeer, Frosty the snowman, Scrooge or Grinch.

There’s no mention of frenzied shoppers or blue-light special sales either.

I believe we have come so far from the true meaning of Christmas that many people do not know what it’s really about.

Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, not scoring a great deal on a video game system or a paper shredder.

Please don’t misunderstand me: I’m not against shopping for Christmas gifts—I’ll be doing my share of shopping and giving.

After all, God is the greatest giver of all: He gave us His Only Son on that first Christmas morning because He loves us so much.

And we give gifts to our families and friends because we love them.

Yet it is so easy to get caught up in all the sales and busyness of the season that we forget Jesus is the reason for the season.

I remember Christmas of 1992.

My wife, Crystal, and I were expecting our first child.

We were newlyweds and “living on love.” (In other words, we didn’t have much money or anything else).

Our first Christmas, we couldn’t even afford a Christmas tree.

Someone had given us a baby swing because our daughter was due in January, so we decorated the swing with a few lights and ornaments.

We placed our few presents under the flickering-colored lights that were wrapped around the four metal legs of the baby swing.

Some might look at a scene like that and have pity on us, but our lack of finances was actually a blessing.

We didn’t have the money to get caught up in the materialism of the Christmas season.

In fact, it was one of our most memorable holidays together because we were able to focus on the right priorities of the season: Christ’s birth and spending time with the ones we love.

Jesus spoke about right priorities in Matthew 22:37 & 39, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. And you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

I believe we need to return to putting God first and loving our neighbors again.

I’m convinced that these are priorities we can all live by. And then we will truly have peace on earth and good will toward all men.

Rev. Doug Johnson is the senior pastor at Raven Assembly of God in Virginia.