Sunday, November 21, 2010
It Has Begun
 A certain ruler asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to
inherit eternal life?"  Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me
good? No one is good but God alone.  You know the commandments:
'You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not
steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and
mother.'"  He replied, "I have kept all these since my youth."
 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "There is still one thing
lacking. Sell all that you own and distribute the money to the poor,
and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me."  But
when he heard this, he became sad; for he was very rich.  Jesus
looked at him and said, "How hard it is for those who have wealth to
enter the kingdom of God!  Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go
through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the
kingdom of God.
Yesterday was Christ the King Sunday. In the Christian year, it is the last Sunday before we transition into advent and the new year on the Christian calendar. On the secular calendar, it is the week of Thanksgiving. It is also the week of Black Friday, when the holiday shopping season traditionally begins. For many, a day of feasting and family is followed by a weekend of football and snack-inspired torpor or a marathon of consumerism.
It is no accident that this week was also chosen for the new Harry Potter movie release. Many schools are closed for the week and college students are home to visit family. Dollars flow through the box offices everywhere.
My family joined in and contributed our fair share to the ongoing success of the saga. Although we are trying to reign in our spending and teach ourselves to live more simply, an occasional movie out seems like a small indulgence.
I must say, though, it seems as if this whole ramping up to Thanksgiving and the ensuing Christmas season is more frenzied this year than in past years. Black Friday prices are already on offer at our favorite retailers. Is there more anxiety in the air because of pressure from the economy? Or is it just more noticeable because of our efforts to be more discerning about spending money in accordance with our values?
I think something Jesus may have been asking the rich young man to do was move away from the practices he had long known, which he'd done by rote all his life. Instead, the young man was asked to try looking at his world in a different way, a way that frightened and dismayed him.
The season's demand for our consumer dollars has begun. What has yet to be determined is how we will respond to that demand.
I'm counting on getting the camel to heaven by way of Bethlehem. Yes, I know I mangled the metaphor, but I'm really looking forward this year to having some moments of rest and contemplation around the scriptures rather than driving myself into a frenzy trying to make a holiday "perfect" by someone else's standards.