I hope you all had a blessed Thanksgiving and were able to take time to ponder the many blessings of the Lord.
Thanksgiving also marks the beginning of our new Church year and ushers in the festival month of December. Here is a list of the special services we have in December besides our regular Sunday services:
Wednesday, 12/2, 7:00 p.m. = Midweek Advent
Wednesday, 12/9, 7:00 p.m. = Midweek Advent
Friday, 12/18, 7:00 p.m. = School Christmas Program
Thursday, 12/24, 7:00 p.m. = Christmas Eve
Friday, 12/25, 10:00 a.m. = Christmas Day
Friday, 12/31, 6:00 p.m. = New Year’s Eve
Some notes about the services: The midweek Advent services prepare our hearts for the celebration of Christmas. They are quiet and contemplative. Supper is served beforehand from 6:00-6:45 p.m. The school Christmas program will center on the Christian basis for the carol The Twelve Days of Christmas. The Christmas Eve service is a traditional service that ends in candlelight. The Christmas Day service is a festive celebration of our Savior’s birth. The New Year’s Eve service ends our calendar year with the Lord. The 6:00 p.m. time is late enough for those who still need to work but early enough that you can still make other evening plans.
A few other notes about the season. We plan to sing Handel’s “For Unto Us a Child is Born” on Christmas Eve. We need as many voices for this as possible, especially the male voices. There are half-hour practices every Sunday after the service (starting this Sunday). There are also half-hour practices before the Advent services. You don’t have to make every practice, but enough to know the music. See Mr. C if you have questions.
Finally, we will be going Christmas caroling Sunday, December 13, 4:30-6:00 p.m. We’ll load up a trailer with carolers and a piano and drive through a local neighborhood. Afterwards, we’ll meet at Tijuana Flats for fun and fellowship. ALL are invited.
Those are the highlights. Now, here is today’s devotion:
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.
Two weeks ago, he had walked into the doctor’s office with his wife for the test results. Today he was walking into his empty house, still numb from the funeral. The cancer had been stage four, incredibly aggressive. Now he would face his first holiday without his wife – Thanksgiving. What did he have to be thankful for?
On Thanksgiving, we usually number the blessings God has given us. If we have a lot of blessings, we thank our God a lot. If the blessings seem few, so is our thanks. A man who just lost his wife has no reason to thank God.
Or does he?
If we use family or life to measure God’s love, then we might say that he has little reason to thank God. But with that kind of thinking, we’re like children judging their mother. When she gives them ice cream, they “know” she loves them. When she sends them to their room because they threw a temper tantrum, they “know” she dislikes them. That’s the wrong yardstick for measuring the mother’s love.
What yardstick will give us a better measurement of God’s love for us?
The one that looks like a cross. For all time, God put his love for us on display when he sacrificed the love of his life – his Son Jesus for us. Our God condemned his Son to death to pay the penalty for our wrongs.
Whether my heart is broken or my fridge is empty, I look at the cross. With the cross I have the measure of God’s eternal love for me. He gave his life for me in love that endures forever. He loves me the same today as he did back then. I may not feel it. I may not understand it. It doesn’t matter. His love for me endures forever.
If our Thanksgiving table is filled with feast and family, we can give thanks. If I am eating leftovers alone today, I can still give thanks. I can give thanks through breath-taking joys and heart-rending sorrows, because his love for me endures forever.
Jesus, thanks for all you’ve given me. Especially thank you for your love that never ends. Amen.