Reflecting on Thanksgiving & Christmas
This year has certainly been like none other in a myriad of ways, and Christians have been tested in their faith and obedience, while the rest of the world reels without the secure anchor of eternal life in God. Franklin Graham has rightly pointed out that 2020 has been better for evangelism than last year, because more people are listening! More are looking for answers against looming threats to our lives/lifestyles, and we dare not waste these opportunities!
Thanksgiving (I hope you were able to spend time with family to some extent) brought with it the added reflections of extended blessings we were in danger of taking for granted. For this month of December, I want to take advantage of these circumstances to do much more reflection on the simple, yet deep messages behind the Christmas story. We sing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel” so readily, with a bit of nostalgia, but often without pausing to think and wonder about the powerful meaning behind those words! I gloss over and move past so much of the Salvation Truth that should rock me to my core. Sometimes I am so torn with the dichotomy between how the world treats Christmas/Thanksgiving, and how believers are to approach it, and it causes me to tremble. I hardly know how to pray. It is at these times that I turn to the Psalms to guide me in my prayers.
What if these songs are also commands from a Holy God, meant to guide the very posture by which I view the world around me? When I witness the different personal responses to Covid-19 from people of faith (which impacts our very fellowship), I can often see the posture by which they approach identity, mission, and life! Do they approach the life that they possess with a God-centered posture, meaning that they are grateful for this precious gift with which they must steward faithfully? Do they recognize that this life is given for a greater, eternal purpose, a mission that is made clear in God’s Word to us? Do they see that God’s Creation defines our identity, and gives us our meaning for life, regardless of outside circumstances or messages?
So in this world of chaos, I turn to the scriptures for answers, guidance, and the proper posture.
For life, I read from Psalm 1:1 “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.”
For mission, I turn to Psalm 105, “1 Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. 2 Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. 3 Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice. 4 Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always. 5 Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced.” (italics & underline added for emphasis)
For identity, I look to Psalm 103, “1 Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. 2 Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits—3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, 5 who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” God’s actions of forgiveness mercy, healing, and salvation on our behalf gives clear indication of who you are to Him! He treats His own as His precious children; may you be one of HIS!
I find all these intimately connected with Thanksgiving and Christmas. A posture of thanksgiving for everything He has done for you (and the list is miles long) will guide you into a meaningful life and purposeful mission with the added benefit of happiness and contentedness! Knowing what He has done for you through the Immanuel (coming to be with us in humanity) gives you the rock-solid assurance of that eternal status and destiny in Him. From Holy Omnipotence, to His frailty as a mortal infant – it should give us deep pause in your meditations, and perhaps even an antidote to the craziness messages the world seeks to promote. Find all that you are truly searching for, in Him!