Thanks But…

“Every good gift, every perfect gift, comes from above. These gifts come down from the Father, the creator of the heavenly lights, in whose character there is no change at all.” James 1:17 CEB

When I was a boy I found it incredibly hard to buy a present for my father. When I asked what he desired he would always respond, “Good children!” Knowing that providing him with good children was only one-fifth my responsibility I knew that I needed a gift to fill in the gap! As I’ve grown up I have come to the realization that my Dad was telling the truth. He didn’t truly need anything but desired our family to be close and loving. My parents provided a loving home and we are all still close. As an adult a question that I do not like to hear is what I want for Christmas or my birthday which are very close together.

It isn’t that I don’t have wants. I have realized as I’ve matured that I really don’t need anything more than I have. God has blessed me with so much that my cup truly runs over. I am blessed with a vocation that I love, a great family, and people in my life that love and care about me. I have realized that the best gifts are not necessarily bought in stores but are given from the heart. Of course stores don’t want us to figure that out. So they label people that desire the comfort of time with family and friends as “hard to shop for.”

Advertisers began long ago a tradition that we call Black Friday. It is interesting that we cram thousands of people into stores in search of that elusive sale item, of which the store has two. People have been trampled to death! Fights, arguments, and quarrels ensue all in the search for the perfect Christmas gift. Nothing says I love you like giving someone a black eye to get a gift for your spouse. I find it sad that we have devolved the true gifts of God into this day we call Black Friday. I find it oddly dramatic that this day occurs directly after the day that we give thanks for all of the blessings that we have received. There is definitely a sociological thesis waiting to be studied here. The stores and advertisers have got us chasing after the things of the world.

We need to remember that we are called to a higher standard. The things of the world add up to stuff. This stuff is on loan to us as a gift. Even our most valuable possessions do not belong to us for as soon as we got it we determined who we would leave it to in our will. Our stuff cannot save us or even guide us toward salvation effectively. Our stuff is just stuff and gets left behind. So we should truly focus on the gift that my Dad always asked for.

Our relationships are a part of the gift that God has provided. We are in loving relationships with our families, friends, and neighbors. We are to be in loving relationships with strangers and enemies. We are called into the perfect communion that is revealed to us as Triune. Being in communion with God and each other is the best gift we can receive or give.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving let us focus for what we are truly thankful. Let us notice that skipping Black Friday leads us into the First Sunday of Advent where we prepare for the coming of our Lord and Savior. I realize that I have just let my mind go on this post. I guess my point is that instead of getting caught up in the consumerism of the season sleep in Friday and spend some time loving your family and neighbors far and wide.

That is this pastor’s opinion. What’s yours?

Happy Thanksgiving,

Pastor Tom