Thanksgiving is the purest, least commercial
holiday on the USA calendar (though the encroachment of retail sales to
Thursday is disturbing). It reflects four universal human experiences:
First, gratitude for a harvest that sustains life for another year.
Second, the centrality of shared meals: whether fancy or simple, there
is something special about the table with family and friends. Third, a
hospitable welcome for people of all cultures. From Squanto to an
exchange student, mutual love and respect grows around the table. And
fourth, our need to thank the Almighty and celebrate the bounty provided
for our flourishing.
year, A.D. 2019, the Thanksgiving Table takes on new significance for
our nation and our world. What if millions of homes open their hearts
and tables for peaceful celebration and conversation of topics other
than impeachment and elections? What if around the Table, conversations
were more personal, more encouraging, and focused on making
neighborhoods stronger, with more opportunities for the marginalized?
if Thanksgiving history is shared, with the miracle of the Plymouth
settlers meeting an indigenous friend who spoke their language and
respected their God (and helped them survive)? What if we cry and laugh
over what really matters?
year, let’s host tables of inclusion and joy, lingering over delicious
food (football can wait), and grateful for the warmth of faith, hope,
and love? Political problems, football games, and great retail sales are
ephemeral. But the people we love and the new friends we make are
Friends, whether you are a devout Christian or a
skeptic, inoculated to religious language or open to supernatural
experiences, the importance of understanding faith is vital as we
navigate our lives in a hostile and indifference world.
facets of faith are vital for our walk with the Lord and effective
service and witness in our world where everything seems up for grabs:
- We are people of “the faith”
– the Event of Jesus Christ: his incarnation, sinless life, atoning
crucifixion, burial, glorious bodily resurrection, ascension to the
right hand of the Father, and Return in glory (I Corinthians 15; Romans
1:2-4, 16-17; I Timothy 3:16; Jude 3). Unlike most religious systems,
our Christian life is built on God’s own activity in history, with the
Cross and Resurrection as the defining events and definitive foundation.
We must defend this truth amidst all the skepticism, historic
revisionism, and basic doubt about the truthfulness of anything!
- We are people with “saving faith.”
We can be assured by the Holy Spirit that we are God’s children with a
secure eternity (Romans 8)! How completely different this is from all
other religions, with their emphasis on human effort. We are saved by
grace through faith (Ephesians 2).
- We are people with “growing faith.” This
faith can move mountains when we trust God (NOT trusting our faith
level!). Faith grows as we obey the Lord – and his first and
foundational command is love (Galatians 5:6).
- And, we are people open to the manifestation gift of extraordinary faith
(I Corinthians 12). This is often linked with other gifts and is part
of God’s sovereign activity as we seek to edify the Body and evangelize
we navigate the turbulent waters of a world in need, may the Lord
strengthen all facets of faith, from solid apologetics concerning the
Bible and truth, to deep assurance, to compelling obedience, and
openness to the miraculous.
cannot make every cause our own. We can be well-informed on issues, but
each of us must focus on the particular concerns we are equipped
for. What areas of the common good are we called to influence? For some
it is pro-life issues (yes, we must all care about this). For others, it
is education, homelessness, employment, affordable housing, personal
life-change, etc. If we each find our place, our community will
flourish. If you are not sure, begin with where God has you today and
allow your character, competencies, and charisms to bloom where you are
Pause and pray. Reflect and rejoice.
Lament and laugh. Today is a gift, tomorrow is a hope.
Bless many secretly, affirm someone openly.
And remember Kierkegaard: “Purity of heart is to will one thing.”
perspective, and subtlety are lost is our world of instant data,
reaction over reflection, and “narratives” we refuse to abandon or
adjust. The Bible informs us that we are beautiful and broken, have a
divine design and destiny, and are capable of unutterable evil and
supererogatory virtue. Let’s embrace reality with the confidence in the
One who unites eternal truth and human reality – Jesus our Lord.