Tis the season…

With Thanksgiving and Christmas quickly approaching it is important to remember the reason for the upcoming season.  While we enjoy time with family and friends and the time away from work let’s all remember the reason for each of the holidays.

Thanksgiving is not “indigenous people’s day”. It is a day of giving thanks for what the year has given us. The first thanksgiving was a celebration feast by the pilgrims of the Plymouth colony, sometime in the 17th century, to celebrate the fall harvest.  The pilgrims had much to be thankful for because they had just survived their first winter in the New World surviving disease and starvation that had cut down their numbers by almost half.  The local Wampanoag tribe had helped them with their planting which helped give them an ample supply of food to sustain them through the winter.  The celebration lasted for three days where accounts say they “entertained and feasted.”  Edward Winslow, who was present at the celebration, stated that “And though it be not always so plentiful, as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plenty”.

It was a time that brought two groups of people that the history books lead us to believe were mortal enemies, together.  Records of the time tell us that present at the harvest feast were the 53 surviving pilgrims as well as 90 Wampanoag Indians from a nearby village.  Two groups of different people from different worlds coming together to celebrate what Edward Winslow referred to as “the goodness of God”.  Putting their differences aside and celebrating as one people. Don’t let the media convince you it was something bad.  They twist the truth to their own agenda.  

Don’t just celebrate with family and friends…celebrate with strangers…with people different than you…we are all God’s children.  Give Him thanks for all that He has given and continues to give you.

Now people already have their eyes and thoughts looking past Thanksgiving straight to Christmas.  Unfortunately, if you were new to this planet and went into your local Walmart, you would conclude that Christmas was all about gifts, snowmen, and a jolly old fat guy in a red suit.  You would be hard pressed to find what Christmas is truly about…A new Hope for a lost world.  The first Christmas day was when a glorious child was being born of a virgin mother.  This new baby boy wasn’t an ordinary baby…no…far from it.  This little baby was going to save the world…literally.  

Sure there were gifts at the first Christmas. But these were gifts of honor and symbolism though I don’t think these three wisemen grasped the true meaning of the gifts they had chosen:

GOLD – which was used to finance Jesus, Mary, and Joseph’s escape to Egypt away from Harod’s murderous wrath.

Frankensense – was an incense used, at the time, mainly in the worship of God

Myrrh – was used mainly in anointing oil and burial embalming

They weren’t gifts of the latest greatest toys or whatever.  They were gifts of meaning and purpose.  Kids now, and yes many adults, believe that the gifts are what Christmas is all about.  Many lose focus on the true meaning, stores turn it into the “Holiday” season so as not to offend anyone not even considering that Jesus offending many people during his life (in a good way). Companies push everything from game systems to new cars as the “ultimate holiday gift” when in fact the ultimate Christmas gift was given over 2000 years ago and sorry, not sorry, but no one is ever going to be able to outdo that gift.  God is truly the ultimate gift giver.

Unfortunately as well I notice that this time of year is also the time that people become less patient and quicker to anger.  Talk about lack of Christmas spirit. Again that goes back to the modern concept of everything right now.  On black friday people fight each other and damage property over material things like saving $50 on a flat screen TV.  I remember one year at Walmart a huge fight broke out over the last flat screen and, after the police and ambulances left,Walmart brought out another pallet of TVs.  Patience is a virtue that not all of us possess especially at Christmas time.

Christmas should also be a time of reflection.  We should reflect on the sacrifice of Jesus.  On all that He has and continues to give us.  No cheap flat screen TV can match the gift of salvation.  Give me Jesus over Samsung any day!  A time to give thanks for the blessings that he has given each of us.  Truly so many blessings that I don’t think one day is enough.  Christmas spirit…and I mean TRUE Christmas spirit is something that we should have year round not just one time of year.

I think if I had to pick one scripture to sum up how you should act all the time but especially so during this time of year it would be Ephesians 4:29-32:

“Let no harmful language come from your mouth, only good words that are helpful in meeting the need, words that will benefit those who hear them.  Don’t cause grief to God’s Holy Spirit, for he has stamped you as His property until the day of final redemption.  Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, violent assertiveness and slander, along with all spitefulness.  Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted; and forgive each other just as God Through Jesus has also forgiven you.”

Ephesians 4:29-32

In other words…Never speak bad to someone.  Only speak words of encouragement that lift the person up.  If you are a Christian act like a Christian and don’t embarrass God.  Be patient, kind, and understanding and never do anything to “get back” at someone.  And always be quick to forgive whatever someone does to you because God has forgiven way worse of you.  If someone snatches that last flat screen TV with an unbelievable price out of your hands let them have it and tell them Merry Christmas.  Maybe they needed it more than you.  If someone takes the last turkey let them have it and wish them a happy Thanksgiving or Merry Christmas.  Maybe it is the last Turkey they will ever be able to share with a parent or loved one.  If someone screams or cusses you out be kind.  You never know what is happening in their lives at that moment.  Maybe your kind words and calm demeanor will change their attitude or even better…show them what real Christmas spirit is all about and bring them closer to knowing Jesus.

So during this joyful season show people the true meaning.  Show people that Christians can still live in the world but not of it. And when you visit family on Thanksgiving and Christmas make sure to stop and give thanks for all that God has done for you and always remember that JESUS IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON!

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