Well here we are, as one of my past sermons is titled “Between the Turkey and the Tree.” When Fall arrives, the shorter days seem to trigger a need inside us of adding blankets to the bed, stocking up on firewood, and dragging out the heavy afghan for cozy TV watching. And with all this preparation for the impending winter, our thoughts turn to the holidays.
Many of us plan great gatherings for a Thanksgiving feast with family and friends. We cook too much, eat too much, and afterward find Grandpa sleeping in the recliner even in the midst of the traditional Thanksgiving Day NFL game blaring on TV. Maybe it’s because of that sleepy stuff in the turkey. Which leads me to wonder if that’s why turkeys walk everywhere they go – they are just too sleepy to fly! But I digress.
As soon as the tablecloths are laundered and folded, and all the nice china is placed back in its safe place for a few weeks, our thoughts quickly turn to Christmas. It’s natural for us to do this as we’ve done it from a young age. I remember tearing through the Sear’s Roebuck Christmas catalog when it arrived in the mail, “dog-earing” the pages that had the great toys! Well, that never worked out well then, and it’s hard to “dog-ear” the pages of the catalogs on my I-pad! But why do we leave a holiday so quickly behind that has “thankfulness” in its title?
Colossians 3:15 says to “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” In reading this, it almost seems as if the Apostle Paul in his letter to the church in Colossae tacks on the encouragement as an afterthought, as if to say “Oh! And by the way, don’t forget to be thankful!”
If we closely examine this and the surrounding verses, Paul reminds the members of the church as well as us today to be more like Christ every day in compassion, forgiveness, love, and yes – thankfulness. If you take any one of these attributes out of the equation, the rest will fail. But I believe thankfulness is not the last attribute we should have, but the first.
When we are not thankful, it’s hard to be compassionate, forgiving, and loving. But when we are thankful for everything God has given us and done for us through His Son, the other attributes flow from our hearts like a waterfall after a heavy rain. The cool midst of this outpouring touches all we encounter with the love of Christ.
So as we find ourselves between the Turkey and the Tree, let’s not forget the thankfulness of the holiday past, but carry it in our hearts and minds through the celebration of the birth of Jesus, and into the next year. We can truly make 2020 a “year of thanks” indeed!