Giving thanks? Now is precisely the time!
Giving thanks to God? In difficult times this may not come to us so easily. Yet it is part of the battle against the crisis, says the Chief Apostle. He also explains how to manage this and what we get out of it ourselves: a divine service in two groups of five thoughts.
Sunday, 4 October 2020 was all about the Sabbath day—and there were two good reasons for that: on the one hand it was Thanksgiving Day and, on the other, the focus was on a Bible text from Genesis 2: 3 which states: “Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.”
Giving thanks to make sure we never forget
“I know very well that it is not easy for everyone to celebrate a Thanksgiving Day divine service under these conditions,” said Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider. “It is true that for many this has been a time of grieving, a time of suffering, a time of privation, and a time of fear of the future.” But: “Let us fight against this illness, this virus, not only by being careful and by observing all the necessary hygienic precautions, but also by insisting that none of these things ever cause us to forget all the blessings that God has granted us!”
Giving thanks to the threefold Creator
On Thanksgiving Day we give thanks to God as the Creator, namely to the Father, who has created heaven and earth, to the Son, who has created the foundation for redemption, and to the Holy Spirit, who is preparing the new creation within the believers in accordance with the example of Christ.
“How can we express our gratitude?” asked the Chief Apostle. He then went on to list five answers.
- Praising and glorifying God: Since singing is not possible at the moment, prayer becomes the focus. Many congregational activities have been suspended. Many are able to work from their home office and therefore do not have to commute as much. “Perhaps it would be nice if we were to take even a bit of this additional free time in order to invest a little more in prayer and in dialogue with our God.”
- Bringing offerings: Believers give a portion of that which they receive because they know where it ultimately comes from. “Bringing our offerings is also a demonstration of our freedom: “I am not a slave of money, I am not a slave to material well-being.”
- Respecting the creation: “All human beings, no matter where they come from, no matter what their condition in life, are made in the image of God. They all deserve the same dignity and the same respect.” And: “God has entrusted the earth to us so that all human beings can live from its fruits. He has entrusted the earth to us so that we can pass it along to future generations.”
- Working actively: After entrusting the earth to them, God commanded man to cultivate it. The call to work can also be found in the Ten Commandments. “Those who are aware of that which God has given them will also feel the desire to commit themselves to Him and contribute to the wellbeing of the congregation.”
- Keeping the Sabbath: “The commandment still applies: ‘Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.’ This means that you stop working, set yourself apart, and dedicate yourself to God on this day.”
Giving thanks in the most beautiful way
This is something on which Christians already agreed centuries ago: “If you are Christian you go to church on Sundays. That is our identity!”
Why should we do so anyway? Here too, Chief Apostle Schneider had five answers ready to go.
- “First of all, we attend the divine service in order to praise and glorify God for that which He has done for us. He has given us everything, and we dedicate a little time to Him in return.”
- “Participating in a divine service is naturally also a celebration of the covenant we have with Jesus Christ. And this covenant is reinforced in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper.”
- “The Holy Spirit has given us a new creature , He has entrusted it to us. We come to the divine service in order to take care of this new creature, in order to feed it so that it may develop.”
- “Our values will only have as much weight in our society as we Christians practise our faith. The less the churches are filled, the weaker the impact Christian values will have in society.
- “We also come to church because God the Son has given us the church. He has entrusted it to our care”—along with the mission to be one. “But how can we foster unity if we all stay at home?”
“I would like to encourage each and every one of us to reflect on that which God has given us, and about how we can bring our gratitude to expression,” said the Chief Apostle in conclusion: “We can do this through praise, prayer, hymns, and offerings, by respecting His creation, mankind, and nature, by obeying His commandments, and especially by keeping the Sabbath holy! That is the most beautiful way of giving thanks to our God!”