Black Friday came and went and before we turned around ‘Cyber Monday’ was upon us. Like the ghoulish antics of Halloween, it’s not too long before we quickly embrace American concepts. ‘Black Friday’, so we are told, follows thanksgiving in the USA when most people take time off and are then free to fill the shopping malls seeking out the bargains on offer. It’s no wonder that shops and retailers go from the red into the black in just one day – and that’s where it all began. It was almost inevitable that the UK shops would not be too far behind and so here we are with Black Friday very much part of our pre-Christmas preparations. From Supermarkets to large inner city stores, internet retailers and even car sales ‘Black Friday’ is here to stay and that’s even before we think of what ‘Cyber Monday’ is all about!

It’s ironic then that the message of Advent which begins this week falls at the same time as this frantic rush to the shops. Advent, however, reminds us of the value God places on every life, which completely at odds with the arrogance and greed that results in in a world where war, injustice and poverty are the daily experience of so many. Advent brings home to us the truth that God is love and leads us to the cradle in Bethlehem where in loneliness and poverty God entered the world of his creation. His birth brings light to our darkness, showing us that loving our neighbour brings us far greater reward and fulfillment than any bargain we feel we must have to make our Christmas complete.

The world may be in turmoil with wars raging, financial uncertainty which we were told last week is likely to last for many years Brexit or not. This is compounded by the inhumanity and abject cruelty of those who claim to have the monopoly of religious truth with an arrogance that brings inexpressible suffering for so many. There are, however, gems of hope which shine through like stars in the night – loving acts of kindness which never reach the headlines, those who devote their lives to being peacemakers in war torn areas of the world and the amazing work that many charities accomplish at this time and all through the year. The light of Advent is all around us and the Bible says that darkness will never overcome it. After all that’s its message – Jesus, the light of the world is born. Black Friday becomes Good Friday, love so amazing so divine – the best gift of all!

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