In Defense of Thanksgiving:
Now that your turkey has been eaten and you have either done your shopping or protested by posting on Facebook why you won't, I'd like to say a word about Thanksgiving.
Last week Craig talked about the Christian calendar as we usually do on Christ the King Sunday. In it, he talked about the difference between our calendar and the world's calendar. To make the juxtaposition more apparent Craig mentioned few holidays that are cultural that aren't celebrated by the church. Examples might include the 4th of July and Halloween.
Thanksgiving is afforded a spot in the lectionary and is even accompanied by a few bible verses. Still it is not an explicitly Christian holiday the way Christmas and Easter are. No one can fail Thanksgiving by "keeping Jesus name out" and there is no explicit war on Thanksgiving (real or imagined).
My title is "In Defense of Thanksgiving." Perhaps Thanksgiving needs little defending, but I wanted say a few words about what's right with the holiday.
In seminary I signed up for a class called "Reconciliation." I wasn't particularly interested in the topic; in fact I remember selecting the class mostly for the ease with which it fit into my schedule. As the semester went on, however, my eyes were opened to how pervasive the theme is, especially in Paul. Paul is always doing theology, but he's always doing it in service to the church. Very often the issue he's addressing in his letters is the Jew/Gentile divide. For example, Ephesians 2:14-16 says:
"14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility."
I've always been suspicious of people who seem to know exactly what happened on the cross. Yes, Jesus died for our sins, but if we take seriously all the metaphors of scriptures you begin see that what was happening is allusive or difficult to understand. Paul offers all kinds of the images, legal, economic, military, etc. Yet none of these can exhaustively answer the question "how did atonement happen?" This is why CS Lewis is helpful when Aslan simply reveals that it was a "deeper magic."
With that groundwork laid, I'd like to suggest that one of those allusive themes of the cross is reconciliation. Reconciliation between God and us, us and ourselves, us and the earth, and with each other (Scott McKnight, A Community Called Atonement). I think Thanksgiving is a bright spot in our otherwise checkered racial history in which American settlers got it exactly right. And by right I should point out I mean that they took help instead of slaughtering people. I like to think of the thanksgiving as a moment when the cross was embodied and the vision of the kingdom lived out. Two racially different and foreign groups sitting down together to share food and company. May the spirit of reconciliation invade our lives this advent season.
A few weeks ago I mentioned that we would be closing on the land across the street on December 2nd. There has been a small hiccup, but the good news is that we will be closing on the 3rd at 1:00 PM. Please pray for this process and that God would continue to birth a vision in us about what He might have us do with it.
This Sunday December 1st:
I've put this in the announcements the last few weeks, but I'd like to reiterate it explicitly here. We will have two services this Sunday. Our normal Sunday morning service will start at 10:30. Sunday evening, instead of our traditional evening service, we will have a Christmas sing, which starts at 7:00 P.M. Come sing festive dittys with us.
At UBC we have so many talented folks living out mission in the life of the larger Waco community.
This week I want to highlight a cake maker and a writer.
Have you ever seen the mural in the game room in the backside of the church? That mural was painted by the very talented Meredith Richey. Meredith currently has an exhibit on display at the Croft Art Gallery on Austin Ave. It will be taken down on Sunday, so use your turkey weekend to go check it out! You can check out her other work here.
One of my favorite artists at UBC is our children's pastor Emily. Though she doesn't advertise it, she can make wicked awesome cakes. She doesn't have a website, so I've included some of them here. Yes these really are cakes!
- The annual Advent Workshop for our children will take place on December 1 @ 1:00 P.M. If would you like information about that email josh@ubcwaco.
- On Sunday, December 1st, we will have multiple worship opportunities. Our regular service and the Sunday First Sunday of Advent will begin at 10:30 AM as usual. That evening we will have our 1st ever Christmas Sing service at 7:00 PM.
- If you are a parent and planning on being here December 22 and/or 29, please email Emily@ubcwaco.org and let her know so we can plan for childcare accordingly.
- We will have Sunday School in the Backside during Advent. This will be an informal time to hang out and have conversation around the Advent themes of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love
- There are still spots available for the Spring Break Monastery Trip. Contact Craig@ubcwaco if interested.
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