2020 has been a tough year. Awful. And here we are, with Thanksgiving almost upon us. As with all things 2020, Thanksgiving this year is going to be different for almost everybody. With infection rates spiking again, most of us won’t travel to see family members or have them visit with us. And here at Church of the Redeemer, we aren’t able to host Chinese Students/Scholars for Thanksgiving or have our full Bluegrass and Chili Cook-off like have done for so many years.
But we are going to do our best this Sunday at COTR, because we do have reason to be thankful and God’s Word commands us to remember and give thanks. Christ is risen; God has forgiven us our sins, showered us with his unconditional grace; and, as our annual Thanksgiving text reminds us, “Remember the Whole Way That the Lord Your God Has Led You in the Wilderness,” (Deuteronomy 8).
This year, we also celebrate that Church of the Redeemer is 23 years old and we’ve been worshiping here on this property for 18 years. Praise God!
To prepare for the Offering of Thanksgiving, please take some time to reflect on what you want to write down and offer up to God. Then fill out a card at the link above.
- God and Creator, I’m thankful to you for: (What things are you thankful for – chocolate, coffee, etc.).
- God and Savior, I’m thankful to you because: (What aspects of his character, or what has he done that you are thankful for?)
Over the past 28 years in the U.S.A., Thanksgiving has become more and more special to me. The beauty of well-aged rituals is an unexpected and unanticipated blessing of getting older. With the passing of years, rituals take on a deeper and deeper richness. They mature and age like great cheese or fine beverages. I want to share a few in particular with you.
For 20 years, I have engaged in the ritual of frying turkeys in my driveway with friends and neighbors the day before Thanksgiving. Each year, I recount the stories of the times when I’ve sat outside frying turkeys in frostbite conditions in places like Utah and Chicago. Old friends from past turkey fries are remembered and called. There’s something deeply centering about rituals like this in a culture where things change too much and too quickly. Rituals provide a constant, a foundation, an “I know who I am and where I’m from” proclamation in a disembodied and isolating culture.
Also, on this particular Sunday, for the past 13 years at Church of the Redeemer, Deuteronomy 8:1-20 has been our text! It’s also the text I’ve read on Thanksgiving Day to a living room full of family, friends, and International Students and Scholars. Deuteronomy 8 is the biblical precedent for the first Thanksgivings in the United States. As the children of God entered the Promised Land, it was a call to begin a ritual of remembrance and thanksgiving. Along with them, we are called to retell the story of God’s goodness and his provision. We have much to celebrate! Deuteronomy 8 is also a sober and needed warning to not forget. It’s all too easy to forget, be driven by dissatisfaction, and to think that all that we have is the result of our own labor.
As we come to the end of a frustrating, stressful, and disappointing year – a year in which so much has been lost – it’s good, right, and necessary for us to celebrate and give thanks! So, fill out your Thanksgiving Offering Cards and come ready to give thanks to the Lord, our God, who has led us through the wilderness.
Yours in Christ,
Quotes & Meditations
If there is no laughter, Jesus has gone somewhere else. If there is no joy and freedom, it is not a church: it is simply a crowd of melancholy people basking in a religious neurosis. If there is no celebration, there is no real worship.
Steve Brown, Approaching God: Accepting the Invitation to Stand in the Presence of God.