You know what? I think that in some ways, modern Christianity is missing out. Let me qualify that, so I’m clear about my experience: modern, American, evangelical Christianity is missing out. On what? Holy days. Unfortunately, we’ve changed the spelling and turned them into holidays.
Our two big holy days are Christmas and Easter, and they are most worthy occasions for religious observation. Unfortunately, though, we fill one with reindeer, shopping, and cute family pictures to be mailed out in a yearly greeting, while the other is filled with bunnies, baskets, and new dresses. We smile sweetly at “8 lb, 6 oz, newborn infant Jesus — don’t even know a word yet, so cuddly, but still omnipotent” — and we paint purple crosses on our eggs, but are we really worshiping? Are we really observing a holy day?
No. We’re just having fun. You know, like going on holiday, as they say in the motherland.
Having fun is not bad, of course, but that’s all most of us are doing pretty much every moment in our lives that we get a choice about it. Even if we dutifully attend church services on Easter and Christmas, we’re just getting that out of the way so we can get on with celebrating — not Jesus, really — but our earthly pleasures. Gifts, eggs, new things, family — and food! Always lots of food. Turkeys, hams, macaroni and cheeses, deviled eggs, you fill in the blank.
All the while I notice that other religions have holy days. High holy days, in fact. Do they include food and gifts? Sure, a lot of times. But it sure seems like a lot of emphasis is still placed on the meaning of the holy day, which generally includes some version of worshiping and realizing their humble status before their deity, while we push out Jesus and replace Him with a bunny and a jolly man with a red nose. (Sad, since we made those up, while Jesus is Almighty God.)
This is why I’m claiming Thanksgiving. It’s a relatively untainted holiday, though I’ve been guilty of focusing too much on the (phenomenal) food and too little on actually being thankful. This year, I’m celebrating Thanksgiving all month. Hence, my Thirty Days of Thankfulness! And here’s what I’m thankful for today:
- I’m thankful for prayer. It’s mysterious how God is in control of all things, is the Creator of all things, and has already planned all things, yet our prayer can move His heart. I don’t understand it. He already knows what I need, yet He tells me to pray to Him. Why? Well, because He loves me. He wants to hang out with me. He wants my good, and He knows that if I pray to Him, if I worship Him, that it is good for my soul and it brings Him glory. “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him,” John Piper always says. I’ve been most blessed recently through intercession, or praying for others. I think He commands us to pray for each other because it brings us closer together in community as we share our burdens, and because it shapes the intercessor’s heart to be more like His. I’ve been really thankful for that these past few weeks.
- I’m so thankful that I get to stay home with my little Bubs. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else; I’m exactly where God wants me right now, and I’m savoring every minute!