Gratitude not only on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day commemorates the creatorship of God. This is what the New Apostolic Catechism says. Once a year, a Sunday is set aside for this in the church calendar. But gratitude is something that Christians can show God on all the other days of the year as well, the Chief Apostle says.

Actually, Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider wanted to conduct the Thanksgiving Day service on 4 October 2020 in Paris. However, the restrictions in place on account of Covid-19 forced him to change his plans. Instead, he visited the congregation in Strasbourg (France). His sermon focused on those aspects for which a person can thank God.

Bringing our offerings gladly

Our offering is a sign of our gratitude, the Chief Apostle said. “We know that it is thanks to His grace that we have what we have, and we thank Him for that.” This is not limited to Thanksgiving, because actually our offering is a testament to our freedom: “We are not slaves of money.”

Respect for the neighbour and God’s creation

Man is a work of the Creator as well, the Chief Apostle said. “All human beings are identical in nature. We owe them all—men, women, or children—the same respect, regardless of their origin and social status.” Jesus pointed out how important this is: “We treat others as we want them to treat us.”

Man’s responsibility for the creation goes further: “Let us treat the environment with love and wisdom. Conscious of our responsibility towards today’s and future generations, let us be careful that we do not exploit the natural resources in a selfish way.”

Grateful for work

Even the exhortation to work is God’s will. The statement that work is a punishment forced on mankind after the fall into sin is based on a misinterpretation of Genesis 3: 17–19. Instead, this passage shows that the sin of mankind has repercussions on their entire living space. The Chief Apostle made clear that he is not referring to labour market issues, but to our heart’s disposition: “Thankful to the Creator, we are committed to contributing to the common good through our work.”

Sanctifying the Sunday

God the Creator rested from His work on the seventh day. This emphasised the perfection of His work. This Bible text urges mankind to stop their activity once a week to contemplate and praise the Creator’s work. The Third Commandment takes up this theme. For Christians this is the Sunday. It reminds us of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Saviour, and we come together in divine service to worship and give thanks to God.

At the same time, he made clear that the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic resulting in the fact that many believers were no longer able to attend divine services, pose a certain danger: “This time of scarcity could strengthen some in their conviction that it is not necessary to go to church to be a good Christian. There is no biblical basis for such a statement.” Instead, he said, divine services are rather an opportunity to count God’s blessings, to dedicate time to Him, and to celebrate our covenant with Jesus Christ. The Chief Apostle’s question was urgent: “How can we be credible if we say that God has died to save us, but we do not even feel a need to come and worship Him?”

We do not even need to wear outward signs or follow dietary restrictions, he said. “Let’s go to church! We express our commitment to the values of the gospel (love, tolerance, forgiveness, rejection of violence, and injustice) by attending the divine services.”

Make no mistake, the number of Christians who attend church inevitably affects the importance that society places on Christian values.

See also the website of the New Apostolic Church International.

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Peter Johanning
Thanksgiving, Divine service