Are Americans losing sight of what Christmas is truly about?
In an effort to combat what some faith leaders see as a move away from Christ-centered holiday traditions, Christian leaders have come together to launch the "Bless Friday" initiative.
Every year, after stuffing themselves with Thanksgiving treats, thousands of citizens across America trek out in search of the best sales at retail stories, outlets and malls. But this year, while many are focused on consumer purchases, select churches will be choosing to give back to their communities instead.
These churches have traded in "Black Friday" antics for some feel-good action in their communities. "Bless Friday," which was initially founded in 2010, has a simple message for Americans: Rather than shopping until you drop, you should be out serving your communities.
Chuck Fox, an engineer and the founder of "Bless Friday," is hoping that he can create a new trend that encourages Christians to substitute shopping for service. "People get our message that when we focus too much on buying things, we lose sight of the real reason for Christmas – remembering and honoring Christ," Fox said in a statement. "We want to begin our Christmas celebration by serving others just as Jesus did."
Watch Fox explain the initiative on WTXF-TV:
The "Bless Friday" web site has more about the initiative:
On the day after Thanksgiving, millions of people started their Christmas celebration at malls and other retail outlets. This can’t be the way that God intends Christians to prepare for the celebration of the coming of the Savior of the World. And what begins poorly also ends poorly.
We believe we can find a critical mass of Christians to alter the way society observes the season. Many people are appalled at how consumerism is devouring Christmas, but they don’t know how to change our culture’s direction. They are ready for a thoughtful call to action.
Getting one's church involved in "Bless Friday" is simple. The group's web site encourages Christians to simply approach their pastoral staff and inform them about the initiative. Then, if one chooses, he or she can help coordinate and organize volunteer activities.
One church -- Beacon of Light Christian Center -- in South Houston, Texas, is planning a food and clothing handout for those in need. Additionally, the church will host community activities. Similarly, at Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church in Houston, church members will volunteer at local ministries, have meals with neighbors and help to fix up homes. These, of course, are only some of the examples.
As the Christian Post notes, the National Retail Federation reports that the number of individuals planning to shop on Black Friday has increased substantially. last year, 138 million people planned to head out into the madness, while 152 million people report that they will do the same this year.
(H/T: Christian Post)