Sitting in a pew last night during a Thanksgiving Eve service is not a place that I would ordinarily shed a tear. There are definitely places where I am so moved, but this particular setting has not been one of them.
But things are happening in the body and people are beginning to share, to give back to Christ for what he has given them.
On this particular Wednesday night the them of the service was five ways of giving thanks. One was in the way of celebrating creation, so the local science teacher got up and spoke of galaxies and cellular adhesion molecules - the things that hold our bodies together. Boring!!! Right? Well, he shows a picture of a black hole in a galaxy that is 300 billion light years from earth that is in the shape of the cross. Then he shows the molecular structure of these cellular adhesion molecules, the molecules in our bodies that hold us together. What does they look like? They are in the shape of a cross! It was an awesome message, seeing and hearing his passion for us and how God's imprint is on all things.
Moments later, a woman in her 50s gets up and talks about walking with God everyday as a way to give thanks. Her life has been a little different than she expected it to be with bi-polar disorder and drug addiction having hit her household. She talked of the struggle, the constant questioning if she would have been a better mother would this or that have occurred. She talked of living in the pain, and giving thanks in the midst of it for her God being there.
People standing behind the pulpit of this relatively large church in small town USA, sharing what has them excited and what Christ means to them. Getting real with the rest of the people in the pews, putting all masks and coverings aside so that God might be glorified all the more!
I love it when God shows up like this. There I sat with my wife and kids, tears streaming down my cheeks, not really caring who would notice because this is the same Christ who has ransomed my life, who has pulled me out of the pit and given his life for mine.
This Thanksgiving morning, I am reflecting on last night's service and on our church's "Test Me Challenge." Our facility is not big enough to handle all of our kids for Sunday School and catechism at one time, so we are looking at a building project. The "Test Me Challenge" is an opportunity for people to test God in the challenge of giving of their time, their money and their hearts!
I have been a taker for much of my life. It is only in the past couple of years that I can say that II Corinthians 9:7 has really meant something to me. But as I sit here this morning, I pray it is true in my life, as well as yours. "Each man should give as he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."
I contend that when your heart is so full of gratitude and thanks that it is impossible not to give. Perhaps you money, perhaps it is in a smile, a handshake. Perhaps you give time to help build a new church, make a meal for a family who needs one - none of it done reluctantly or under compulsion, but rather out of gratitude.
II Corinthians 9 continues, and in verse 11 it says: "You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God."
Experiencing grace and peace in this world is done, largely through giving. People giving to us, us then giving to others because of what Christ has done for us! My prayer this Thanksgiving, and in all the days to follow, is that we will all be made rich in every way so that we can be generous on every occasion - giving all Glory and thanks to God above for blessing us so richly with family, friends, lives we don't deserve and Life we don't deserve.