On Black Friday I came across a tweet from Rev. David L. Hansen (@rev_david), a Lutheran pastor–and social media kingpin–in rural Texas noting that people who actually benefit from the deeply discounted prices offered by retailers on the day after Thanksgiving were “caught in the crossfire” of criticism emanating from those who find the 24-hour orgy of shopping crassly commercial.
This resonated deeply with me. I come from a part of the country where Black Friday is regarded in the same way that the first day of hunting season is regarded in places where they hunt for food rather than sport. Later, the Rev. Laura Everett (@RevEverett), executive director of the Massachusetts Council of Churches passed on a tweet suggesting that the success of Black Friday showed a deep desire to participate in public rituals. Soon, the three of us where discussing whether the church might do more on Black Friday than simply lament the commercialism.
Last night, independent of that conversation, the Rt. Rev. Rob Hirschfeld, (@NHBishopX) Bishop co-adjutor of New Hampshire wondered if the church could bring the Eucharist to the mall on Black Friday in the same way that Ashes to Go brings ashes to the church on Ash Wednesday. Later, the new suffragan bishop of Texas Jeff Fisher (@jeffwfisher) affirmed that idea, and the conversation was spread by Beth Felice tweeting at the Diocese of Missouri’s handle (@DioMoNews).
It seems to me that when done well, taking our rituals out of the church and into the streets and malls and transit stops can have a powerful effect on people. The experiences of the Rev. Emily Mellott (@eamellott) and others who have helped make Ashes to Go such a success may be valuable in figuring out other ways to take the church to the people.
What do you think? How should the church be present on Black Friday? How can it be more present in people’s daily lives?