Q: Dear Pastor,
Thanksgiving is now a blip on the holiday radar since we’re forced into Christmas so early these days. Any tips on highlighting this precious holiday without becoming a Scrooge?
A: Don’t cave into pressures to decorate ahead and for God’s sake, don’t allow Halloween to outshine. Like Jesus, who stood up and commanded the storm to cease (Matthew 8:26), we must stand up and rebuke the world’s idea of how we should live. Thanksgiving has morphed into an after-thought of family, food and football. There’s not a thing wrong with those three things, but when we forget the reason for the Thanksgiving season (giving thanks for our abundance), we fall out of step with God.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we Christians are regularly being tested by our culture to keep our beliefs quiet, keep our heads down and keep moving; preferably out of the way of the non-Christian agendas bearing down upon us. The subtle signs of culture-change eclipse our Christian ethics which often force us to make unpleasant choices. Unchallenged, these pressures to conform then pave the way to not-so-subtle omissions of Christian ideals and statutes later on.
For instance, what was once unthinkable (like Christmas décor appearing anywhere before Thanksgiving Day) is now commonplace. We’re also seeing student events like after-school practices or tournaments intruding upon Wednesday night church or Sunday morning Sabbath. Wedding ceremonies, of all things, are now an ostentatious carnival compared to what used to be a sacrament performed in holy order. Years ago, people married in mom’s living room, church parlors or parsonages followed by joyful potluck dinners; or cake and punch with tearful send-offs to genuine honeymoons. Now, young people shack up for years because they want the $30,000 dream-wedding and can’t afford it yet. Oops, they have a child... and still they sport a white dress and tails when they finally wed. It’s all viewed as completely normal in the world we live in, as they bang on our Church-doors demanding a nice venue for the wedding photos.
What is our response? Stay faithful to the way God does things. Love our neighbor but love God, too.
We tend to think of our relationship with God as something churchy; that being faithful means attending church whenever the doors are open. Yet being faithful is an intentional way of living every day; and not only in observance of a religious holiday or Sabbath. The world will not provide a Christian path for us to walk on, that’s for sure. It never has. Jesus confirmed this truth in Matthew 10:16-23 (CEV): “I am sending you like lambs into a pack of wolves. So be as wise as snakes and as innocent as doves.” He then assured us of strength, blessing and reward for standing up when the world insists we sit down.
Staying faithful is like maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It’s remembering the little things. The wisest man who ever lived said this: “Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that plunder the vineyards; for our vineyards are in blossom” (Song of Solomon 2:15, NASB). We must employ God’s wisdom to see that the little foxes that destroy our Christian culture are identified and snuffed out. Skipping over Thanksgiving is like plucking off our blooms and forfeiting one of the best parts of our year - taking time to give thanks to God before we launch into the demanding Christmas season full of pressures and obligations.
Good news! It takes only one person, like Abraham, to make a difference. One Christian mindset, one Christian household clinging to tradition or one brave soul intentionally walking a different path will impact the community around us. Keeping an emphasis on Thanksgiving isn’t a decision the world is making these days. It’s up to us to keep the importance of this holiday alive. Make it special and make it God’s!
Adrienne Greene pastors two Christian churches in southeastern Indiana. Do you have a question or comment for Pastor Adrienne? Please send your inquiries to: email@example.com or write to P.O. Box 214, Harrison, Ohio 45030.
Ask Pastor Adrienne: Keep Thanksgiving alive!
Q: Dear Pastor,