According to reports, while Black Friday sales' start times have continued to creep earlier as retailers look to max out on one of the biggest shopping days of the year, some retailers are bucking the trend.
While the past has seen many stores open their doors the day before, on Thanksgiving, (Sears did so in 2010, Walmart in 2011, then Target in 2012), several retailers and mall owners have refused to open early. According to data gathered by BestBlackFriday.com, at least 60 retailers plan to keep their stores closed on Thanksgiving this year. Whether this is because they wanted to give employees time to spend with family or because they have decided another marketing strategy will work better for them, I do not know. But I hope that we will take time to give thanks for more than a day reprieved from the holiday stresses that we know are soon to come.
When the Church acknowledges a day of national thanksgiving, we do so not to baptize the old holiday traditions and somehow make them Christian but to acknowledge the mercy of the Lord who makes the sun to shine on us all and makes it rain upon the just and the unjust. The world does not have to acknowledge this mercy to benefit from it. Remember Luther's Catechism: Give us this day our daily bread. What does this mean? God certainly gives daily bread without our prayer, even to all the wicked; but we pray in this petition that He would lead us to acknowledge this and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving. Without God’s providence none could survive just as without God’s forgiveness no one could be saved. In the Our Father we pray not so much for the daily bread but for holy heads and hearts to know and rejoice in the mercy that provides it. For in teaching us to pray for daily bread and forgiveness of sins, our Lord Jesus teaches us to pray in acknowledgment that our lives depend entirely upon God -- here and now and there in the hereafter.
Neither the rain nor the sun is different but the same no matter on whom it showers or shines. Yet we are different. It may not seem fair or just to us but the mercy of God is never fair or just. He gives what we do not deserve and we are richer for those gifts -- whether we see or acknowledge them or not. But in the reception of a grateful heart the mercy transforms us by those gifts. So today, if we do anything at all, let us not forget to give thanks for such mercy. It confuses and confounds us in its lavish generosity but it has the power to do even more than that -- it has the power to transform. Pray for such faith, such a thankful heart, and for eyes open to see His mercy new every morning.