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Who Are You Thanking on Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving Day by Bonnie White

Thanksgiving Day by Bonnie White

Ok so most of us are planning a family gathering Thanksgiving.  Some of you are most likely wondering if there is anyway to avoid the tension and stress as families unite, cooks pack the kitchen, and people arrive bearing side items and desserts.

I’m honestly not bothered by the chaos.  However there are some in my family who find getting the food ready on time, carving the turkey or getting the green beans just right as a stressor. (I just avoid the kitchen)

This year my family has experienced a faith building situation as my Dad is going through treatment for cancer.  Yuck.  That’s not something to look forward to during the Thanksgiving Holidays.  So Dad having to go thru radiation treatment over an 8 week period has changed some of this years family traditions.  Some of my family, not to name names but they are the only 2 nephews, will certainly miss the crockpot macaroni and cheese. But the thing that I’m considering is how a change in focus from all the food and preparation reminded me of what I am thankful for and Who I am Thanking.

Normally after a big meal and a few too many pieces of pie, we wipe our mouths and say, thanks to the cook or cooks.  “that was great, thanks.”  I’m thinking the change will be good and help us think about how precious it is to be together.

This year, we’re planning on having sandwiches, stuff all us children can bring in, so that Mom doesn’t have to do much more than make iced tea.  I’m hoping the lack of a table full of food helps us consider that it isn’t just about thanking the cooks but being thankful period.

Not only do we need to be grateful, we need to remember who we are Thanking.  America has a long tradition of thanksgiving.  As with many holidays, Thanksgiving has turned into another way to make us spend more on groceries or food channels to show 10 new ways to use left over turkey.  However, the whole point was that we would take time to stop and gather with the people we care about and talk about why we are thankful and to whom we are thankful.

George Washington proclaimed a day of thanksgiving on Oct 3, 1789 and pointed us to the fact that it is our duty to “acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor” 1

For it is not just the cooks and those who provided the food for our meal that we thank.  It’s not just the Thanksgiving Dinner or the family that is gathered, our focus as in all things to see that it is the hand of Almighty God, our Provider and Sustainer, the God of the Bible who has given us all things.

So this Thanksgiving – Remember who to Thank!

Both riches and honor come from You, And You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might; In Your hand it is to make great And to give strength to all. “Now therefore, our God, We thank You And praise Your glorious name ..” … 1 Chron 29:12-13.

Enjoy the good gifts of God!

1 Timothy 4:4-5

For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,  because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.

Why Bother Creating! It’s all gonna Burn!

life from death tree image

What you do in the Lord is not in vain.  You are not oiling the wheels of a machine that’s about to roll over a cliff. You are not restoring a great painting that’s shortly going to be thrown on the fire. You are not planting roses in a garden that’s about to be dug up for a building site. You are- strange though it may seem, almost as hard to believe as the resurrection itself- accomplishing something that will be come in due course part of God’s new world.  Every act of love, gratitude, and kindness; every work of art of music inspired by the love of God and delight in the beauty of creation; every minute spent teaching a severely handicapped child to read of to walk; every act of care and nurture, of comfort and support, for one’s fellow human beings and for that matter one’s fellow nonhuman creatures; and of course every prayer, all Spirit-led teaching, every deed that spreads the gospel, builds up the church, embraces and embodies holiness rather than corruption, and makes the  name of Jesus honored in the world – all of this will find its way, through the resurrecting power of God, into the new creation that God will one day make.  That is the logic of the  mission of God.  God’s recreation of his wonderful world, which began with the resurrection of Jesus and continues mysteriously as God’s people live in the risen Christ and in the power of his Spirit, means that what we do in Christ and by the Spirit in the present is not wasted. It will last all the way into God’s new world.  in face, it will be enhanced there. Surprised by Hope – N.T. Wright

Sometimes I wonder how we would live “in light of God’s restoration of all things” rather than with a view toward “all things burning up” viewpoint.

The Re-Creation of a new heavens and new earth has at it’s root the promise of a New Eden, a “New Heaven and New Earth.”  Many Christians do not have a complete view of what God will Re-Create after Christ’s return.  Many have have considered images of angels and harps and think we spend eternity in heavenly cloud like spaces!  When scripture points to a Heavenly City (Revelation 21:1-14) that connects both the New Heaven and New Earth.

We will be part of a new creation that will reflect the glory of God.  The very things in this life that we have pursued and created that reflect God’s glory will last!  Wright says, “all of this will find its way, through the resurrecting power of God, into the new creation that God will one day make.”

As N.T. Wright points out in the quote what we do here does have eternal impact.  This includes creating great artwork, writing great music, teaching children to read and grasp the wonder of this world, helping the needy, bringing hope to those who are hopeless, caring for others and a multitude of other things.

We just finished celebrating Easter.  The Resurrection is about new birth.  It is about the power of God over death and destruction.  When I consider the impact of Jesus’ Resurrection, I must also consider that he finishes his time here on earth promising to give power for all believers to proclaim the Good News and continue the mission.

We live in light of the power of the risen Christ, in us by the ministry of the Holy Spirit that Jesus also promised.

So what does this mean for me today, this week, this month?  I look at the moments ahead and seek to honor God by worshipping Him in my calling!

I do my work to the glory of God.  I love my family to the Glory of God.  I talk to my neighbor about the glory of God!  I live with a different set of rules than the rest of society that they would see the glory of God!

Each moment here is not to be wasted! It has value! I don’t do lousy work thinking it will all burn up anyway!  I don’t destroy the creation of God or mistreat its creatures because all that matters are the souls of those who truth in Jesus. Our calling in this life is to live by the power of God in light of the Resurrection.

“God’s recreation of his wonderful world, which began with the resurrection of Jesus and continues mysteriously as God’s people live in the risen Christ and in the power of his Spirit, means that what we do in Christ and by the Spirit in the present is not wasted.”

We can live with expectation of Jesus return but we also have to be faithful doing what our master has left us to do!  So go out there and live in such a way that others see Jesus!  They look at your work and go wow!  They wonder why you live with such a humble and yet bold spirit. Sure, we look eagerly for the Lord’s return and live with urgency and prayer for Revival and for many to come to Christ.  We cannot however let a view of end times lead us to a place of apathy about our lives and work here and now!

What if people who lived in the last few centuries had exclaimed, “Oh well, Jesus is going to return; all things are gonna burn up; there is no need for Colleges, Universities, Hospitals and other great institutions.” No they wanted to see a better world here!  We need to live fully today with hope for our future! We don’t know when Jesus is returning! So build, play, write, sing, create, work, have families, build schools, and do many noble things!  Create new ways to make the world a better place! Free the millions in slavery! Find a way to provide clean water! Discover a new way to provide clean energy!  Find a way to communicate the gospel to places now closed to the gospel!  We have great work to do!

Jesus Resurrection and Ascention hasn’t just left us here peering at the sky wondering what to do next.  The call is pretty clear.

Your work and life are not in vain!  You have purpose!  That means following the mission of God into a life that leaves a lasting impact. Full of good things that will not burn up and be destroyed point to the glory of God!

Read more about God’s Calling in “The Call” by Os Guinness