You’ve no-doubt heard about the so-called “War on Christmas” but have you ever thought about the “War on Thanksgiving”? On the one hand, the secularization of Christmas is pretty obvious. Santas and snowmen replace Nativity scenes. We sing Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” instead of “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem.” The changes are so obvious that it barely takes any digging to discover them.
The “War on Thanksgiving” (if you want to call it that) is more subtle. Sure, they may overemphasize football and turkey but, generally speaking, even the most pagan Thanksgivings still talk about giving thanks. They don’t, unfortunately, direct their thanks toward God. For some, Thanksgiving seems to be little more than a sigh of relief that mother nature allowed them to survive another year. While they may appreciate the wonder of creation and the bounty of the harvest, they forget all about the Lord who gives it. Others looking for a place to direct their gratitude turn to their family and friends. In Daniel Tiger’s Thank You Day special (aka Thanksgiving) the characters just walk around singing “Thank You for Everything You Do”. (You can thank my Emmaline for that illustration.) No word is mentioned about God who has given us all of these people we share life with. Josh Groben sings about giving thanks, but it’s never more than just a feeling. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with standing in awe over the marvels of creation. Saying (or singing) thank you to our friends and family is appropriate. Gratitude is better than complaining. But all that is just a start.
The “War on Thanksgiving” may be most obvious in pop culture, but its most serious battles need to be fought in our own hearts. It’s also easy for us to become so wrapped up with enjoying our blessings, even being grateful for them, that we too forget about the Giver of all these blessings. If we’re going to fight to reclaim Thanksgiving, we need to start with ourselves. Regardless of what they’re doing on TV or the radio, we’re not done giving thanks until we remember our Heavenly Father. Psalm 107 encourages us “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his mercy endures forever.” You may very well recite these words every time you eat. If you do, don’t let them become so common that you overlook the profound truth they contain. It doesn’t matter what blessings you’re giving thanks for this Thanksgiving, every one of them comes from God’s hand. Giving thanks starts with the Lord, remembering his goodness and mercy.
As you direct your thanks toward God, you’ll also find even more reasons to give thanks. In addition to food and shelter, friends and family, you’ll remember the peace of forgiveness, the certainty of heaven, the security of God’s protection, and the joy of living for him. You’ll appreciate the blessings of Holy Communion, sacred Scripture, and a church family as well.
Once we’ve started reclaiming Thanksgiving in our own hearts, we may be ready to take the fight to the streets, so to speak. Whether people realize it or not, giving thanks is always empty without remembering the Lord. While it’s nice to be grateful, it’s better to direct this gratitude toward God. If you run into somebody who hasn’t yet discovered the full joy of thanking God for all their blessings, show them what they’re missing. Lead them to give thanks to the Lord for his goodness. Help them discover his goodness and mercy as well.
Like it or not, we live in a post-Christian nation. While our culture around us may keep up some of the outward appearances of Christianity, it has emptied them of their meaning. Thanksgiving has become one more example of this. Don’t get swept up in this movement. Keep Christ in Christmas and Thanksgiving (and all year for that matter) and you’ll discover the joy that he alone gives.
Services will be held tonight at 6:30 pm with a pie fellowship to follow in the lower level of church. Bring a pie and join us for fellowship and pie. Thanksgiving Day worship will be held at 9:00 am tomorrow.
Funeral Planning Documents
Last Sunday we ran out of the Funeral Planning Documents in the back of church. We have printed more. You'll also find a PDF version to print and fill out, and a Word File that you can type in and then print out. While these can be returned at any time, try to return them to the church office during November.
If you would like to purchase a 6½ inch poinsettia plant to decorate the church for Christmas, please sign up on the sheet in the entryway. The poinsettias are available in red, white, pink and marble. The cost is $15.00. Use an envelope by the sign-up sheet for your payment and place it in the box in the entryway. You may take your plant home after the Christmas Day worship service. The last day to sign up is Monday, Nov. 28th.
Teen Bible Study
There is NO teen Bible study this weekend. You're invited to join the Adult class on Hosea. Next weekend we'll continue to discuss what God has to say about spiritual gifts.
We continue to live-stream our services and post our worship folders online. We will be recording our Sunday 8:00 am service which means you can watch any time after 8:00 am on Sunday morning. If you need any help accessing these resources, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
You can find our worship services at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCsQs-LDzlHE1NTjOaVaQ2A.
You can find a bulletin for each Worship Service so you can follow along here: https://stjohn-appleton.org/bulletins
Listen To Our Worship Service Though Your Phone:
If for some reason you cannot access our YouTube Livestream or you don’t have Internet at your home, you can always phone 1-920-212-3625 after 10:30 am each Sunday to listen to our service through your phone.