Montgomery County Maryland has recently taken the action to remove all religious names from the school calendar. They will still have days off, but they can’t call them Christmas, Easter, Hanukkah, etc. But I wonder what you do with Thanksgiving? What do you call it “The 4th Thursday of November Just Because”? Play with that one! Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. goes back to the Pilgrims in 1621, to George Washington’s declaration in 1789, Abraham Lincoln’s order in 1863, and finally fixing the date of the 4th Thursday in November by Congress and President Roosevelt in 1941. There is no way to remove the implication of this day that we are giving thanks to Almighty God. In our increasingly secular society it has become a day for family, food, and football, but at our gatherings we do usually ask the question, what are we thankful for? We certainly list our relationships, and our material blessings. But the more important question is always, to whom are we thankful? To whom? – the President, the Montgomery County Council, general good fortune, who? This day flies in the face of the militant secularists who would remove all religion from society. I hope you have a very enjoyable and blessed day. Have fun, eat too much, but never forget to whom we give thanks.
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.(I Thessalonians 5:18)
In our prayers after breakfast each morning we bring before the Lord a variety of things. We mention persons with serious illnesses, and prayers for general protection for the family. We pray for guidance and wisdom for the tasks of the day, and even that some administrative chores go smoothly. The illnesses and the administrative chores are far from being in the same category, but our belief is that there is nothing to big or too small that cannot be brought before the Throne of Grace. That Throne is surrounded by the deepest love, constantly inviting us all to come. That doesn’t mean that we get everything we want, just the way we ask. But it does mean that our Father has our very best interest at His heart, and in His wisdom, does do what is for our best good. So, we will continue to take everything to Him, and know that His grace is sufficient for this day.
Our adult Bible class has been looking at the Book of Leviticus. It is all about God’s holiness, and His call for us to be holy as He is holy. That means we reflect His holiness in the things we do. We looked at the statement, “a holy people do holy things”, and we asked the question, what are holy things? Answers given listed things like worship, prayer, service in the church, etc. But we pointed out that holy things are really much more broad than that. Going to the grocery store for food for the family, going to our daily occupation, helping our neighbor shovel his snow, these are holy things. These are all part of the vocation to which God has called in life. What we do we do to the best of our ability. We do it to care for the ones God has brought to us. And even if we never mention His name in the process of a particular task, we do it to God’s glory. Each of us has a holy calling to serve our Lord in the tasks before us. Whether a mom, dad, student, teacher, employee, or boss, this is where God has placed us, and we live it to His glory. Colossians 3:17
Peace is a vital quality that we all want. We have militaries that help to secure and maintain peace. National leaders draw up peace plans. Personally, we look toward a vacation, or retirement to be a time of peace. We have savings accounts and insurance policies to provide for our peace of mind. Peace is an illusive quality in our world. There is always some personal, family or societal problem that invades our peace. Try as we might, we can never insulate ourselves totally from problems. But being insulated from problems is never the kind of peace that our Lord spoke about. He was very clear in saying, “in this world you will have trouble.” However, He immediately follows that by saying, “but take heart! I have overcome the world.”(John 16:33) Jesus will have the last word in all situations, personal and national. In the peace that Jesus gives we have a strength and security for every time of life. In a very fearful time in His disciples lives He said to them, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world gives, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”(14:27) It is this peace that I pray grows more in each of us.
We call God “Almighty”, “Creator of the heavens and earth”, even “Father”. We acknowledge Him as great, and as the author of all life. Statistics show that the vast majority of people believe in God. They also show that 80+% of Americans own a Bible, and revere it as God’s Word. But statistics also show that there is an equally high percentage of Bible illiteracy. Something is disconnected here. We acknowledge God as great, and the Bible as His Word, but we pay little attention to what He has to say to us. Admittedly, parts of the Bible are difficult to understand, but there are many parts that are abundantly clear. Our God desires to speak to each of our hearts. God, the Holy Spirit, is with us. He uses His Word to speak directly to each of our hearts. Isn’t that neat! Our God speaks to us. It behooves us to listen.
Christmas is coming. It seems that stores and the media have jumped over Thanksgiving completely, except as the starting off day for Christmas sales. Red suited Santas will begin appearing everywhere. A dear family wrote to me recently asking how we dealt with Santa when our kids were growing up. We never emphasized his bringing gifts, but looked at the story of St. Nicholas instead. I know each family deal with this differently and that is fine, but it does raise a larger issue. As Christians how do we teach these major events that come up throughout the year. Halloween, is it ghosts and goblins or do we emphasize All Hallow’s Eve and All Saints Day? Thanksgiving, is it only about turkey and football, or about the Godly roots upon which our country was founded? Christmas, well I’ve mentioned that above, but you get the point. We live in a very secular world which seeks to remove all meaning from these annual days, except for free time and indulgence. Our values are different. Our fun is different. We are not stiff and stodgy by any means, but we do seek to to all things in ways that bring honor to our Lord.
People, and probably most of us, have said that we don’t feel close to God at one time or another. Emotions always play a part in relationships, but they should not be the determining factor. With God it really doesn’t matter whether we “feel” close to Him or not. He has first come to us, and has promised never to leave or forsake us. So, feelings are deceptive. We must look deeper at the truth that under-girds our relationship with God, and also with others. We don’t always feel good toward a spouse, but we live in the marriage covenant, “for better, or worse, till death we part.” The same can be said for true friendships. It is really nice to feel good, but feelings are not a basis on which we live, especially with our Lord.