The Day Before Black Friday

Psalm 100

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his
[a];  we are his people, the sheep of his     pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.


  1. Show the black Friday advertisements and the one on Thanksgiving.
  2. Going to review what Thanksgiving is all about and then why we have Black Friday.
    1. The Pilgrims who sailed to this country aboard the Mayflower were originally members of the English Puritan sect. They had earlier fled their home in England and sailed to Holland (The Netherlands) to escape religious persecution.
      1. There, in the Netherlands, they enjoyed more religious tolerance, but they eventually became disenchanted with the Dutch way of life, thinking it ungodly. Sound familiar!
      1. Seeking a better life, the Puritans negotiated with a London stock company to finance a pilgrimage to America. Most of those making the trip aboard the Mayflower were non-Puritans but were hired to protect the company’s interests. Only about one-third of the original colonists were Puritans.
    1. The Pilgrims set ground at Plymouth Rock on December 11, 1620. Their first winter was devastating. Can you imagine arrive in the beginning of winter in what is now Massachusetts?
      1. By the beginning of the fall 1621, (almost a year later)  they had lost 46 of the original 102 who sailed on the Mayflower. Almost 50% of the original colonist.
      1. But the harvest of 1621 was a bountiful one.
      1. And the remaining colonists decided to celebrate with a feast — including 91 Indians who had helped the Pilgrims survive their first year.
      1. It is believed that the Pilgrims would not have made it through the year without the help of the native Indian population.
      1. The feast was more of a traditional English harvest festival than a true “thanksgiving” observance. It lasted three days.
    1. Governor William Bradford sent “four men fowling” after wild ducks and geese. It is not certain that wild turkey was part of their feast. However, it is certain that they had venison. The term “turkey” was used by the Pilgrims to mean any sort of wild fowl.
    1. Another modern staple at almost every Thanksgiving table is pumpkin pie. But it is unlikely that the first feast included that treat.
      1. The supply of flour had been long diminished, so there was no bread or pastries of any kind.
      1. However, they did eat boiled pumpkin, and they produced a type of fried bread from their corn crop.
      1. There was also no milk, cider, potatoes, or butter.
      1. There were no domestic cattle for dairy products, and the newly discovered potato was still considered by many Europeans to be poisonous.
      1. But the feast did include fish, berries, watercress, lobster, dried fruit, clams, venison, and plums.
    1. This “thanksgiving” feast was not repeated the following year. Many years passed before the event was repeated.
      1. It wasn’t until June of 1676 (more than 50 years) that another Day of thanksgiving was proclaimed and was held in mid-June 1676.
      1. It is notable that this thanksgiving celebration probably did not include the Indians, as the celebration was meant partly to be in recognition of the colonists’ recent victory over the “heathen natives,”
    1. A hundred years later, in October of 1777 all 13 colonies joined in a thanksgiving celebration. It also commemorated the patriotic victory over the British at Saratoga. But it was a one-time affair.
    1. George Washington proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving in 1789, although some were opposed to it.
      1. There was discord among the colonies, many feeling the hardships of a few pilgrims did not warrant a national holiday.
      1. And later, President Thomas Jefferson opposed the idea of having a day of thanksgiving.
    1. And nothing happened for many years. No Thanksgiving! But, after a 40-year campaign to establish a day of thanksgiving, in 1863, President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as a national day of Thanksgiving.
    1. Thanksgiving has been proclaimed by every president after Lincoln.
    1. The date was changed a couple of times, most recently by Franklin Roosevelt, who set it up for the third Thursday in November – in order to create a longer Christmas shopping season.
    1. Public uproar against this decision caused the president to move Thanksgiving back to its original date two years later.
    1. And in 1941, Thanksgiving was finally sanctioned by Congress as a legal holiday, as the fourth Thursday in November.
  3. Seems that doesn’t bother us anymore because Christmas shopping starts right after Halloween and November and December is the largest shopping period in the US (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, the solstice and other winter holidays.)
  4. In the 1950s, people began calling in sick the day after Thanksgiving, essentially giving themselves a four-day weekend.
    1. Since stores were open, as were most businesses, those playing hooky could also get a head start on their holiday shopping. That’s as long as the boss didn’t see them. Rather than try to determine whose pay should be cut, and who was legitimately sick, many businesses started adding that day as another paid holiday.
  5. In 1966, the Black Friday name became famous in print. The Philadelphia Police Department used the name to describe the traffic jams and crowding in the downtown stores.
  6. If it seems that Black Friday has been arriving earlier and earlier each year, you’re right. The activities of the Friday after Thanksgiving, featuring mad rushes on the doors of retail stores as they offer pre- Christmas sales, have now shifted to Thanksgiving night at many large stores.
    1. Macy’s, which sponsors a famous parade on Thanksgiving morning, will be opening its doors for shoppers at 5:00 p.m. the same evening.
    1. Now, just about all major retailers are open on Thanksgiving Day.
  7. It is obvious that, in recent years, the more commercial aspects of the Christmas season have begun to encroach on the celebration of Thanksgiving.
  8. So, we ask ourselves a question: What does the commercialization of the Christmas season mean for Christians? Especially since it seems to wipe out any mention of Thanksgiving.
  9. On Thursday, our nation will pause once again to give thanks. And one would assume that because of the example of our national history, and because we have so much, that we would be an extremely thankful people.
    1. But it is often just the opposite, isn’t it? The more we get, the less thankful we become, the less mindful of God we become, and the more we want. 
  10. I think that the 100th Psalm was written to deal with that attitude, to remind us of our need to be thankful, and to maintain an attitude of gratitude.
  11. The 100th Psalm was written for the people of Israel.
    1. God said to them, “When you come into the Promised Land, & settle down in your warm homes, and you have plenty to eat, don’t forget Me. I led you out of the wilderness and I brought you into a land flowing with milk & honey.”
  12. But it doesn’t take very long to realize that the people of Israel needed a reminder, and I am afraid that we need it, too.
    1. Maybe God had us twenty-first Americans in mind, too, when this Psalm was written.
    1. Did you notice to whom it is addressed? The first verse says that it is addressed to “all the earth,” and the last verse says that it is includes “all generations.” This message of thanksgiving is so deep and wide that it applies to every person in every era in every stage of life.
  13. I think that there is something about giving thanks together to God that breaks down barriers between people and brings about a unity, much like that which occurred as the Berlin wall fell 20 years ago.
  14. I think also that there is a real danger in this season of determining our thanksgiving on the basis of how much we have. “
    1. Do I have enough turkey to gorge myself sufficiently?
    1. Is my money in the bank secure?
    1. Am I healthy?”
    1. And we let these things determine whether we are or aren’t thankful.
  15. The Psalmist says that all of these things may change at any time. They may drift away, or burn up, or someone may steal them. The only thing we have for sure is our relationship with the Lord. 
  16. We also stop and ask ourselves this question: How do our observances of Thanksgiving reflect our beliefs and how can we incorporate the practice of gratitude throughout the year?
  17. Most of us feel better when we experience a grateful heart, and if we’re gathering with loved ones for the Thanksgiving holiday, we may experience a greater sense of well-being.
    1. But gratitude is more than something we do because of the benefits.
    1. We give thanks because it’s a natural outgrowth of a life lived in communion with God and with others.
    1. Gratitude is not a tool to get something else; thanksgiving is the natural by-product of a life of wholeness.
  18. The implication of the Psalm 100 is that the natural state for the creation is one of praise to the Creator. When we give thanks, we’re only taking up our part. Praise may actually be our natural language, something that we get disconnected from through the suffering and insecurity we experience in the world. If the hills are alive with the sound of music, why shouldn’t we be as well?
  19. Almost every world religion requires its followers to give thanks to a divine being, often in prayer, song and deed. The Book of Psalms is full of praises of thanksgiving. The Talmud tells Jews to give thanks for their blessings 100 times a day; the Quran tells Muslims “God always rewards gratitude and God knows everything.” Nonbelievers give thanks, too, as the growing number of secular thanksgiving “prayers” attest.
  20. Robert Emmons, a University of California psychology professor and author of “Gratitude Works!,” says gratitude is “profoundly basic” to the human condition. “When we are grateful for something, we consider its origins. Where did it come from, who was responsible for it, why and for what purpose does it exist, what should I do about it? These questions strike me as profoundly religious.”
  21. Seeing the world through the eyes of gratitude changes our perspective. It allows us to see the world as God sees it — as an extravagant gift given out of the pure love of God.
    1. Gratitude also has a prophetic edge, inviting us to respond to our neighbors, and their needs, as a gift as well.
    1. In God’s economy, there’s always abundance, potential and possibility, even when we are facing the worst.
  22. Lou Gehrig captured some of this about gratitude in his farewell speech at Yankee Stadium on July 4, 1939. Gehrig was one of the greatest baseball players of his generation, playing with Babe Ruth and other legendary athletes during his career. He was known as the “Iron Horse,” partly due to his then-record 2,130 consecutive games in the field.
  23. At the age of 36, however, Gehrig developed amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a rare disease that was later named for him. The diagnosis was not good, and he rapidly lost his physical abilities. So, on Independence Day, as he retired from the game he loved, he was honored in a stadium packed with 61,000 people.
    1. “Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got,” Gehrig said, referring to his diagnosis. “Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth. . . . I’ve got an awful lot to live for.”
  24. Do you have anything to be thankful for? Before you say, “No!” Think about all of the things and people in your life — about this church and what Christianity means for you. You might take time this next week — as we celebrate Thanksgiving as a nation — to list what you are thankful for — to remind yourself. The list doesn’t have to be only the most profound and life-changing things – give thanks for the most basic things that you have.
  25. Thanks be to God!
  26. Let us pray: Almighty God, we thank You for giving us your Son, Jesus the Christ. We thank You for making Yourself known in the Creation and in Your Son and in the Holy Spirit. Cause us to take these joyful thanksgivings and tell them to our friends and neighbors, that they might join together with us in offering everlasting thanks to You. In Jesus’ Name, we pray, Amen.