Yep, I’m a mum. So not so much time for indulging in a leisurely window shop. Last week I had half an hour to kill before dropping my daughter at the swimming pool. We popped into the same mall to grab a quick after-school snack. Time for me wasn't an issue today, and it was obviously not for many others at the mall.
We parked at the commercial end and elbowed through the main entrance - huge lofty doors, shiny floors, gleaming escalators, and seething with people. To the left the teenage girls clothing shop, to the right the denim shop, then the sports shoes, then the fashion shoes, the sports store, the electronics store, the Two Dollar Shop. Sale signs adorned them all. 'Made in China' screamed in my head. The corridor was full as the masses headed in their respective directions, passing the quiet stores, bumping into oncoming foot traffic, minimal eye contact, avoiding physical contact, and barely whispered apologies for getting in the way or bumping into anyone. A mass of strangers caught in the bright lights of the new temple. Worshipping the elusive icon of the dollars in their wallets, praying that the plastic will be accepted as an offering, and rewarded with the false hope that their offering will make them look better, stand out from the crowd, be more popular.
We found a snack in the food court, amongst the McDonalds, the takeaways and the greasies. The overpriced muffin that I could have baked at home and a caffeine fix (actually, I really needed that one!).
Our youth pastor will be holding youth group at this same shopping mall soon, and I wonder what they will discuss as they view it through a Christian filter. Will they discuss the value the of friendships built as youth shop together and snack together? Will they consider the origins of the products on the shelves? Will they spot the mothers on an outing with their babies and infants? The value of the stimulating a baby with bright lights and crowds versus sunlight and God's creation? Are these people here spending with a purpose or buying to fill a void?
Where once a church was the focal point of a town or community, it seems it’s been replaced by the glistening shopping mall. There is so much there to choose from, but will it satisfy the longing in their hearts? As I head back to my pew next Sunday I shall put up a prayer for those who don’t have the fulfilment of Jesus in their hearts, and the family of Christ to support them when things are down. I’ll look at my brothers and sisters as we put out our hands together to receive communion and give thanks to God for his many bountiful gifts.
Has an everyday experience ever become a moment of discovery like for Heather?
It's easy to think that our society has moved on from the 'silly idolatry' of the past. Visit a shopping mall on this Sunday, compare the entrance to ancient temples, and ask yourself: have we really escaped idolatry? What about you?
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