From the Prophet Isaiah:
For the windows of heaven are opened, and the foundations of the earth tremble.
(From the Daily Office Lectionary – Isaiah 24:18b (NRSV) – November 29, 2013.)
Black Friday. The day after Thanksgiving Day in the United States. A day whose name comes from financial accounting and the ancient practice of recording profits in black ink, losses in red. Supposedly, at one time, this was the day when retail merchants who might have been running “in the red” the whole year would see themselves “in the black” at long last. I don’t know if that is still the case, but the name has stuck. Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving Day.
I’m never sure what to do on Black Friday. I am definitely not going shopping. I hate shopping in the first place, and the idea of being shoved and jostled about by larger crowds than usual would just make it worse! Looking at the news coverage of Black Friday events, one could almost imagine Isaiah’s prophecy has come true. Under the onslaught of all those trampling feet, surely “the foundations of the earth tremble.”
Anyway, what to do? The dishes need to be done. The leftovers from yesterday need to be checked; were they put away properly? Should I start stewing the turkey carcass to make the soup which will be a staple for the next week or so? Should I just kick back and relax and read a good book? (“But don’t forget you need to finish your sermon for Advent 1,” says the small voice of conscience somewhere inside my head.)
Even more so than Thanksgiving Day itself, this is a day to give thanks, but not for gifts received. This day is a day to give thanks for a future of limitless possibility. Isaiah’s statement, “the windows of heaven are opened,” reminds of me of summer mornings when my mother would wake me up by coming in my room and throwing open the window. In the Nevada desert, it would already be warm even early in the morning. The dry desert breeze would carry away the slightly musty, not-very-chill air from the “swamp cooler” that had kept us cool through the night. The arid warmth would suggest so many things a boy freed from school might do. The open window, the open windows of heaven, inviting one into a future of limitless possibility.
I’m never sure what to do on Black Friday. There are so many options, so much possibility, so much to be thankful for.
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Father Funston is the rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Medina, Ohio.