Today is Thanksgiving. Christmas and the New Year are around the corner. You have a good idea of what you can expect of your holiday experience at this point. For some it's an anticipated celebration, for others a dreaded reminder of the pain in your family's life.
For as long as I can remember, any family gathering at my Grandmother's house involved us gathering around and praying together before the meal. Regardless of the words said, someone would tear up, sniffle, or hug you a little closer.
As a young child I thought it was funny, because I knew it was always coming, but now that I'm twenty-seven, I understand what was happening. Life is complicated, and it's by grace that we were all standing there.
Holidays take a magnifying glass to the good and the bad in our lives, and as we've now arrived at the one all about gratitude, I figured I would share a couple reminders to those who may not list "grateful" as their number one characteristic today.
Beware of the highlight reel.
No one posts online the transcript of the arguments, the shipping email of the present that's arriving after the holiday, the pain of fragmenting in families, the dressing that was dry, the disappointment of absent loved ones.
We all typically have positive leanings when we are campaigning for ourselves via social media, so it helps to remember that others are doing the same.
"Comparison is the thief of joy," Theodore Roosevelt once said. If the temptation towards envy feels too strong, turn the phone off for a day.
Our Hope is the Gospel.
Before creation, there was God, and God existed in perfect community: Father, Son, Holy Spirit. As an extension of that community, God created us. The family grew. Then some of the family members rebelled, and the holidays weren't like they used to be.
Awkwardness, sadness, shame and all sorts of pain entered the picture. Home was no longer the beautiful garden it once was. Struggle and strife drove even families to turn on one another.
The family continued to grow, though, and by the unrelenting grace of the One who started the family in the first place, history moved towards Hope.
Then one day Hope was born. His name was Jesus, and he brought an offer of peace to the family. He extended an invitation for all to come sit at the table, to eat his bread and drink his wine and be healed and filled forever.
His main call to action was simple: follow me. And who did he say are blessed?
"...those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
...those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
...those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.
...those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.
...those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
...those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.
...those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God."
The broken hearted, the sick, the disappointed, the lonely, the forgotten, the last and the least...if that sounds like you today, the Kingdom of Heaven is yours now and forever in Jesus.
Tim Keller once wrote,
"The resurrection means everything sad is going to eventually come untrue and it will somehow be greater for once being broken and lost."
I pray today is full of hope and peace for you and your family, and in view of the resurrection, that all things sad continue to become untrue in your life...that if you feel broken, if you feel lost, you would have eyes to see the arc of the universe bending toward reconciliation, not chaos, for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!