Originally Published in The Calhoun Times Saturday, November 14th
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Please and thank you are magic words. Did we all learn that rule as children? My wife often says “You attract more flies with honey than vinegar.” She means that a kind word or soft tone will get better results when asking for something than a demand with a sharp tone. Please and thank you may work wonders, but they’re not exactly magic. Praying God’s will and offering praise from a thankful heart, now that’s how to really make things happen.
Christians disagree about Halloween. Some point to the Christian roots of it. The word Halloween is a combination of Hallows Eve, the day before All Saints Day. Unless you’re Catholic you’re probably not celebrating All Saints Day, if you even know what that is. Even if we think of Halloween and All Saints Day as rooted in Christianity, there are definitely pagan elements in the traditions as well, not to mention what our culture has done with it in recent years. Some Christians defend it, others decry it, while most people probably have a good time and don’t care about the historic origins or whether it’s Christian or not.
Not all Christians agree on Christmas. The very name for the holiday is literally Christ’s Mass and its origins in Roman Catholicism are hard to miss. There is no biblical mandate to celebrate the birth of Christ and some Christians are very concerned about only doing the exact things the Bible instructs us to. The incarnation is a high point in the hope of the human race but the birth of Jesus is merely the first step on the road to the cross. The centerpiece of Christ’s life and ministry is his death, burial and resurrection. That’s what Peter preached on the day of Pentecost, not about wise men and manger scenes. Others would be fine with the Christmas they remember from childhood but not with the Holiday Season that begins in mid-October and runs through New Year’s Day, brought to you by our corporate overlords in the name of commercial profitability. I would like to suggest Advent as a Christian alternative to the commercialized American holiday (and will do that next week).
We should be all about thanksgiving. The following verses are just a few examples from scripture: Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise! (Psalm 100:4) Every good and every perfect gift is from above… (James 1:17) For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer. (1 Timothy 4:4-5)
The Bible is perfectly clear – we are totally without hope on our own. We are warned not to trust our own power or understanding. God feeds the tiniest sparrow (Matthew 6) and we are worth much more to God than that. He gives us life and feeds us by his hand. There is much to be thankful for. Even in a recession we live in the most prosperous and productive nation in the world. We are abundantly, overly blessed. And lest we feel we worked hard and earned that, consider where the health came from to do that work. If you have a strong back or a sharp mind, give thanks to God for those things.
It doesn’t have to be only one particular Thursday each year but this certainly gives believers an opportunity. Only a handful of nations have a Thanksgiving holiday and we should embrace the occasion to give worshipful thanks to our creator God. If one is giving thanks it stands to reason that someone very specific is meant to receive that thanks. In our culture that is no longer the case. We can be generally thankful for things while recognizing on one (or no deity) in particular. Thanks just sort of goes out into the universe in some form of positive energy. We as believers can very deliberate in giving thanks and intentional about to whom thanks is given.
I would hope that Christians especially would wait until after Thanksgiving Day to turn on the twinkling lights, but maybe that’s one of my lost causes. I don’t know how much Christ is left in Christmas, but let’s do all we can to keep the thanks in Thanksgiving!