Tony Campolo tells the story that for a kid growing up in Philadelphia as he did, Mischief Night, the night before Halloween, was a highlight of the year for his neighborhood. It was the night the kids generated all sorts of mayhem for the adult world. Cars were egged, homes were tee-peed, air was let out of car tires, trash cans were overturned–a whole assortment of pranks were sprung on neighborhoods. So in the days and even weeks before October 30th, they would dream and plan what they were going to do on Mischief Night. Campolo recalls that it was during one of these planning sessions that he and his friends came up with “the perfect prank.” They were going to break into the local five & dime store late at night, not to destroy or steal anything. What they were going to do was break into the store in order to switch all the price tags. They imagined with glee the next morning, when the store reopened and chaos followed. Toasters would be on sale for 25 cents and gum for $30, flashlights for a nickel and licorice for $15. No one would know what the price of anything really was.
For Campolo, this childhood Mischief Night story paints a picture of our experience in the world today. We live in a world that is in many ways much like what that five & dime store was on Halloween morning. All the price tags have been switched. We sense the confusion as we move through the store; we have a profoundly difficult time knowing what is really valuable and what is of lesser worth. This is the cultural context we are all given.
One of the things that God is up to in this switched-price-tag world is restoring order to our confused and deceived sense of what is truly important. The Spirit generously communicates to us through the testimony of the Scriptures and the wisdom of our believing community. And thereby God’s restoring and guiding work among us seeps into the everyday choices and decisions of our lives, recalibrating our inner compass toward what is important in this world and what we personally value.
Reflection & Conversation
• In this world of switched price tags, where are you currently confused about what really matters?
• How are the Scriptures and your community of faith challenging your everyday choices and decisions and points of view?
• How are you sorting out what truly matters to you?
(This blog entry is adapted from VantagePoint3’s The Journey process. Stage 1: Biblical Foundations, Session 6: Exploring Our Values)