Good Friday to You,
Have you seen one of those popular videos…where you are told to count the number of passes by the white team? But counting passes is not the point of the video – the counting is simply a distraction. The surprising truth is that when we are given a specific task requiring our focused attention, we completely miss the ridiculously obvious. In this case,a moonwalking bear sliding across the screen.
Was that the reality of your Thanksgiving? Were you so focused elsewhere that you completely missed the “giving thanks” part of “thanks giving?” Wouldn’t that be the epitome of missing the ridiculously obvious?
For some, cleaning, cooking, and juggling schedules had our entire focus. For others, it was the painful reality of who was missing (the result of a death or a breakup in the family). And for others, it was the number of times Cousin Eddie did something frustrating. How does “he” find a way to show up in all of our families?
Or maybe in the waning moments of your day, posts on Instagram or Facebook provided clear and convincing evidence that all of your friends had perfect Thanksgiving gatherings.
Distraction. Distraction. Distraction!
What “Giving Thanks” Means
A recent Forbes Magazine article claimed that there are “7 scientifically proven benefits of gratitude:”
- Opens the door to more relationships.
- Improves physical health.
- Improves psychological health.
- Enhances empathy.
- Reduces aggression.
- Sleep better.
- Improves self-esteem.
As a pastor, I can also tell you that giving thanks is essential to your spiritual health! But if we’re not careful, Thanksgiving celebration includes everything BUT Thanksgiving.
If this sounds like your holiday, stop right now and make a list of the many things for which you have to be thankful. Start simple with, say, gravity and oxygen.
God commands it: Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chronicles 16:34). Notice that He doesn’t command you to have a feeling (i.e. “feel thankful”). Instead, it is a command to give thanks.
You will be surprised how the feeling of thankfulness follows closing the practice of giving thanks.
Notice how much time we spend in worship thanking Him for all He has done for us! And that’s exactly what we will do this weekend. We have the special joy of beginning our celebration of the birth of our Savior. Have you thought much about the people who were first to be invited to celebrate Christmas? They were a bit of a ragtag group.
Later, Jesus explains the reason for God’s strange guest list. We will reflect on His parable about the Great Banquet. I encourage you to take a first look by reading Luke 14:1-24.
Hope you join us this weekend,