by Teresa Donati
Today, the day after Thanksgiving, is traditionally known in America as ‘Black Friday,’ a term used by businesses to denote the heavy shopping that puts stores financially ‘in the black.’ The spending for holiday presents can wipe out debt, and provide enough cash for a business to survive the whole year.
In a time of pandemic, Black Friday is starting well in advance, as online shopping overtakes the walk-in customers at department stores and shops. But, the objective is the same: to get out of debt, to gain profit, to survive confidently in the coming months when shoppers spend far less.
It makes me think: perhaps I too should spend some time this season to get out of debt, but the debt I am thinking of is the often-neglected time for prayer, for even five quiet minutes to think about God, to think about the higher things. We have Peter’s phenomenal imagery for this, as he recalls his witness to the Transfiguration, and says: ‘You do well to be attentive to this, as to a lamp shining in the darkness, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.’ (2Peter:19) What beauty in those words!
How appropriate, today’s Psalm 80, repeating with embellishments that sing on the page:
Restore us, O God;
let your face shine, that we may be saved. (v3)
‘Let your face shine’ – what a breathtaking prayer and plea and then (v7):
Restore us, O God of hosts,
let your face shine that we may be saved.
Singing on, (14-15):
Turn again, O God of hosts,
look down from heaven and see;
have regard for this vine,
the stock that your right hand planted.
Spending time, that most precious currency, tending the vine that God planted, my soul, spending it in prayer, this is my spirit’s Black Friday. It is the only path to ease our hearts as we remember and miss those with whom we shared these celebratory days.
And it is the foundation of serenity and reassurance in times wonderful and times that make us wonder, such as now: God, please, have mercy on the world in this great plague in which we are living (and dying). Look down from heaven, shine your blessed face upon us.
And we, remembering Paul’s buoyant urging, ‘Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, Paul tells us.’ (1Thess.5:15-16). Start or join song and prayer by zoom, by joining ongoing groups, or by singing alone those songs and prayers that lift your senses to the holy. Let us pray more, trust more, love God more, find bible encouragement, remembering they can help find wisdom and peace. Knock at that bible door! Pray for the-health of The World.
Amen. May the lord bless us into health, please let Thanksgiving be a turnaround holiday, moving from the capturing fear of mortal threat, to the liberated hope of renewing our lives once more.