Celebration, Feasts And Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. We celebrate by coming together with friends and family, and we eat! Actually,we don’t just eat…we feast! We celebrate with food and people. Most Thanksgiving celebrations don’t usually take it to the level of the first Thanksgiving when the Pilgrims and the Indians feasted for three days, but we often have enough left overs to last three days if we wanted to.

A feast of fall colors.

A feast of fall colors.

I also love that aside from the food, we do not give gifts! This is a day where families come together if they are able. Often those with no blood relations near them are invited to local families or churches to enjoy each other and the food. (Did I say we eat a lot?)

Ever since my son began to play football nearly 20 years ago, his participation in or around the sport has occupied a place in our morning because of the annual High School rivalry. That’s OK though because it builds our larger community and it often adds to the conversation around the dinner table after the game.

 

We come together to acknowledge and celebrate the goodness of God in our lives. I find celebration in our day and age is something that is often misplaced or lost all together outside of sporting competitions.

Being able to share with others what we are thankful to God for is important. Even saying out loud one thing we are thankful for starts or strengthens healthy neural-pathways in our brains.

It releases good, a bit like when our Creator said at the end of each day of Creation, “And God saw that it was good.” There is something reassuring about that. Often with a group, one statement of the goodness of God inspires multiple reminders in the others.

Instead of focusing on the negative, we have an opportunity to inspire ourselves and those around us with reminders of how God has met us in the mundane and in the extraordinary. And we get to do it at a feast!

What are you Thankful for? I’d love to hear! Please share and inspire me to remember my own experiences of God’s goodness.

 

“God Of The Gaps”

I recently heard Ravi Zacharias describe our God as the “God of the Gaps.” He got me thinking….

Our God is Holy. That means perfect. I believe every sane person is fully aware we are not perfect. So, how can a perfect God be friends with imperfect people without being contaminated?

Other faiths lead people on paths hoping they might be good enough to gain acceptance by their gods. These paths are inadequate and leave gaps between humans and our creator.

The Super Moon...I needed a photo...God in the gap?=}

The Super Moon…I needed a photo…God in the gap?=}

Can we do enough good things to balance out or erase the bad things we have done and thought? Yes, our thought lives are very much a full partner in these equations. The Creator knows everything, even our thoughts.

Is it possible to do a sufficient number of good things over many reincarnated lives to merit a relationship with a holy God? What do we do with our failures? Do we begin again as annoying bugs in hopes of reaching perfection? The gaps are vast!

What if we calm ourselves into states of nothingness? Might that state of emptiness qualify us to be friends of God?

Some may try to be good, but knowing they aren’t good enough on their own, throw themselves on the mercy of God. They know our Creator is good and loving, therefore He must certainly be willing to dismiss our messes…. So what motivates us to keep from making the gap bigger? Is there a point of not being able to fill the gap?

The mercy of God is complete, but it is also slightly conditional. I say slightly because His mercy is offered to ALL and given freely, but each person must choose to accept it as their own free gift, not earned.

Our Creator has always known we could never be holy enough on our own to close the gap. We are all created in the image of God, because we are made to be friends of God. God has never been surprised by the gaps, the great distances between people and His holiness. Before the Creator created, He planned for the gaps!

The Good news is of course Jesus Christ reconciling us to our Creator though His death on the cross that redeems us if we accept.  The Good News gets even better. God is the giver of life and the sustainer of life. Likewise, the gaps in our everyday lives are met with the same completeness as Jesus on the cross.

As followers of Jesus we remember we are saved by grace for eternal life but sometimes we lose sight of God’s daily redemptive acts as we lean into Jesus to forgive those who offend us, love the ones close to us who inadvertently hurt us, draw on His strength to face ordinary and extraordinary challenges and pull on Him to experience comfort in our daily needs. No other gods are able to fill these gaps as effectively, gently or lastingly as our Creator and Redeemer: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Our God is the God of the every day gaps…, not only the eternal gap.

What gaps in your life will you invite the “God of the gaps” into?

 

Dialing Down

I feel like I am a slow learner on the subject of dialing down to rest. This past year I have moved three times. For decades I worked in an environment full of activity. I am learning to disengage from busyness I used to mistake for significance and I have come a long way.

We also have the exceptionally long and vicious political season, make that year, we Americans have just survived. Many voters had to figuratively or literally hold their nose while they voted. The  public and caustic display of mud-slinging in every direction has brought a new level of disrespect and tension to the public square, even on a global level, like nothing ever experienced before.

Fruit resting in the vine

Fruit resting in the vine

So how do we dial down from all that on top of the “normal” tensions we all face? How do we dial down from the prolonged tensions?

In my experience dialing down begins with stepping back. When we are so close that all we can see and experience is tension, it is time to pull back, take a breath, and ask some questions. We ask God some questions.

How did I get here? Is this where I want to be, or will it lead me to where I want to go?

What might I need to change about the way I see and think about this_____?

Abba, How do You see this_____ and how do you see me in relation to this?

Sometimes we have allowed ourselves to see others as opposition or worse yet enemies. That’s when we ask Abba to help us see them from His eternal perspective. We ALL are created in the image of God. Our Creator loves each one of us equally. Abba, PLEASE show me the qualities You love in the other and help me to love them too.

Often people we feel are difficult have been wounded by others. It does not give them the right to misbehave, but I find it easier for me to have compassion when I understand they may be acting out of pain another has caused them.

Forgive and release, both the people and the situations that are beyond our control. Then ask for help to replace the thoughts that lead to tension and exhaustion with rest giving truth. Listen carefully for the still small voice that lines up with the word of Good. Lean in to those truths, taking each thought captive to Christ. (2 Cor. 10:5)

Trust that Our Creator has not been taken by surprise by our circumstances or choices. My worry only hurts me, or those around me if I get snippy or silent. God is Good and He sent His Son so we can have abundant life! Not a life of tension and fear. Asking Him to help me get on His grand script for my life and off my finite script of uncertainty helps.

Yes, exercise, healthy diet and sleep are all good prescriptions to help in the process, but even those begin in our minds as we choose them.

REPEAT AS NEEDED. =}

Dialing down is a choice and a process. I am very much in process. Is there any area of you life than can use some dialing down?

 

Cubs And The Joy Of Hope Fulfilled

The Chicago Cubs won the World Series! OH THE JOY of Hope Fulfilled!

I grew up a baseball fan, but with years away from the sport when I lived overseas I have become a “fair weather” fan. I watched until the Red Sox and Big Papi lost early in the playoffs. Since my brother lives in Chicago and is a Cubs fan I tuned in a bit for the World Series this year.

ubs fans celebrate. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

Cubs fans celebrate. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

It was going to be a great win for either ball club. Both had long droughts without a World Series Pennant, but I think we can all agree that 108 years for the Cubs was the longest!

What a joy to wake to the new reports of the Cubs victory in extra innings of game seven! What fun it was to watch fans in Chicago holding the trophy, not just the players! What a party for the entire city and Cubs fans everywhere. Even my brother went downtown the next morning to join in the celebration.

Here in New England the news reported this week on Hazel Milton, a woman in New Hampshire who is a spry 108 years old and a life long Cubs fan! She is lively and had a T-shirt on saying how she wanted the Cubs to win before she dies! Imagine the relief and joy of hope fulfilled.

This woman’s hope and expectations reminds me of Anna in the Gospels…She was also an old woman, only 84 as opposed to 108, who prayed all her life for the Messiah to come. Then one day Joseph & Mary brought new-born Jesus to the temple and Anna begins to give thanks to God and tell everyone about him and the redemption of Jerusalem.

She was excited, and she had eternal reasons to be! So do we.

We are on the winning team, everyday. With Jesus as Lord and savior we have eternal life and the power to live victoriously every moment through the Holy Spirit who lives in us.  I have to tell the truth, I cried with gratefulness when I heard the Cubs won the World Series. Silly? Maybe.

But it got me thinking…how do I respond to the daily victory I have in Christ? Honestly, I forget sometimes, or do I take it for granted? Either way, I pray I will go forward living with a heightened awareness of the joy available to me because I am a winner in Christ every day.