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Holidays into Holy Days

Thanksgiving is upon us (actually passed by the time this blog is posted) and the Christmas glitter already surrounds us.  This year in particular for those of us who claim to be Christ followers (i.e. Christians), we almost cascade from Thanksgiving into Advent.  Whether we wish to or not, we weave between secular holidays and holy days. Thanksgiving is a secular holiday yet, with only the barest amount of scratching on the surface of the story, this time reveals itself to be a holy day.  As we know, the one to whom we properly give thanks is God.  The Native Americans who came to the first feast knew this truth in their own way.  So too did our pilgrim mothers and fathers.  It is important I think not to skip lightly over this holy day but use it as a proper spiritual introduction into Advent. Perhaps my favorite quote for this time of the year is one from Meister Eckhart (a greater Christian theologian and spiritual leader of the late 13th and early 14th centuries).  “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.”  This is doubly so if we trace the connection from Thanksgiving to the being of Advent on December 1st.  Advent is the time of preparation for the birth of the Savior (Messiah).  The word “Advent” means coming or arrival and these truly are holy days of preparation. The Christian faith hangs in the balance on the fulfillment of the great prophecy of God with us!  (“Therefore, the Lord will give you a sign. The young woman is pregnant and is about to give birth to a son, and she will name him Immanuel. [God with us!]” Isaiah 7:14.) The good news of which we speak and preach is built on the doctrine of the incarnation. At our recent “Clergy Day Apart” Professor Seamands reminded us of the importance of this proclamation.  “It is an idea, Augustine concluded, utterly unique to Christianity.  Fifteen hundred years later, after spending over half a century as a missionary and evangelist in India where he was continually dialoguing with and witnessing to Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims, E. Stanley Jones came to the same conclusion: “This verse – ‘The Word became flesh.’ is the Great Divide. In all other religions it is Word became word – a philosophy, a moralism, a system, a technique.” Only in Christianity “for all time and all men everywhere, ‘the Word became flesh’ – the Idea became Fact.”  The incarnation, then, distinguishes the Christian faith from all other faiths.”  (From Offer Them Christ by Stephen Seamands, pg. 32). Turn the holidays into holy days.  Preach and teach and share the scandal of the incarnation. Oh, lest I forget, allow me to pause and note a neat event taking place through the ministry of Campus Drive Community United Methodist Church. They are hosting a men’s conference (“Liberators in Action”) on December 1st from 10 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. with Reggie Barnes and Tony Curtis from the Dallas Cowboys as keynote speakers.  For more information follow this link http://www.ctcumc.org/pages/detail/2394. May your holidays be holy days!