November 25, 2020 (Week 37)
This may well be a different sort of Thanksgiving celebration for you, but I truly hope it is one of the best you’ll ever have!
Ours will definitely be different. Out of an abundance of caution, there will be no guests at our house this year. Elias and Maria are both out of state, and Jonah and his family are isolating at their home. And having others would be ultimately too risky. So mama and I will be alone.
A great many people are in the same boat in 2020. There has been a great deal of sadness about that. Even a bit of anger. Sadly, there is also a modicum of belligerence, driven by a mindset that says that restrictions suggested to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, are not finally relevant or important for everyone; in those cases, family gatherings are proceeding full speed ahead.
There is no doubt that everyone is quite tired of being threatened by this disease. All of us. Although our reactions are varied, (some wiser, others less so), we still must all navigate the contexts in which we live and move and breath. And for Americans, thanksgiving is the most important secular observance on the calendar. How shall we celebrate? How can we celebrate? Indeed, for many it seems that there is very little to celebrate.
It is my considered opinion that we are living through a time of remarkable and unprecedented opportunity. And for that we should be so very thankful!
Our opportunity is not a function of anything we’ve gained. Our gratitude is not for anything we have accumulated. We have a tendency to think of what we “have” as the sole criterion for gratitude. The error is the assumption that what we “have” is “ours;” that they are things we can earn, or worse, that we deserve. Under such an illusion, it is normal that we would think that the amassing of stuff is something to be happy about.
However, the truth is, that what we have is from God. All of it. There is nothing that we have, nothing we can accumulate or gain; nothing we can earn or merit; that is not a gift from God. God has blessed us with everything! Our personal wealth and health. Our status, our learning, our families, our power; the totality of everything we have and everything we are, and all that we will become is a gift of God’s wonderful grace. In our country in particular, we are blessed beyond measure. I have had the privilege of traveling to many different places around the world, particularly in the developing world, and I can promise you that we are blessed beyond measure. We don’t have to carry water on our heads. We have luxuries that are only dreams for many people. And those are just the things. Our healthcare system here, for those who can access it, is one of the best in the world. And the majority of the “problems” we complain so vociferously about, are “first world” problems, that are usually little more than inconveniences. Through real challenges, God has us in the palm of God’s hands....
Do you know that God loves you? And God gives you a chance to love others! This is not a theoretical proposition, but living reality. God loves you so much that God has provided for all of your needs; indeed, giving you more than you need! And in terms of the challenges and vicissitudes of life with which you may feel threatened, God is with you every step along the way. And the final, ultimate threat, avoided by none which is death; even this has been vanquished by God. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ, there is nothing that can finally hurt us. God loves you! And God invites you to love! Intentionally! Inclusively! Universally! Completely! Love Everyone, Always! Love Better!
Therefore, in face of everything 2020 has brought us, we mustn’t be afraid. God is with us. So, the challenges brought by the pandemic, the acrimony resulting from the political unrest, the discomfort arising out of the recognition of the racial injustices in our country; all these things are trying to be sure. But God is with us.
It is with this in mind, that I believe that we are indeed blessed with wonderful opportunity, even now. Counter-intuitive? Maybe. But what is sure is that God has blessed us these days with unprecedented opportunities to serve and to share the manifold blessings that many of us have forgotten that God has given us.
So brothers and sisters, now is the time to celebrate! Now is the time to offer Thanksgiving to God for the blessings with which we’ve blessed, whether we see and feel them, or not! Because those blessings are there! The greatest and holiest privilege we have is to share God’s blessings. To reach out to those who have lost hope; perhaps have never had it; and to tell them, “God love’s you!”
Happy Thanksgiving sisters and brothers! In whatever celebrations you find yourselves in, I hope that you will take time to offer a prayer of thanksgiving to God for God’s manifold blessings, for God loves you! What a wonderful opportunity we have to share that news with the whole world!
Be safe and have a blessed holiday!
“Concert in the Courtyard", Wednesday Evening worship and fellowship
Please sign up here: https://www.godamong.us/post/wednesday-concerts-in-the-courtyard
- Before worship, around 9 am, Darrell and Nancy Datte host our after worship coffee/donut fellowship time (BYOC/D) on Zoom, and look forward to welcoming everyone in our community. Please think about joining in and saying hi to your brothers and sisters. That gathering can be found here: