Happy Thanksgiving! It’s been just about a year since I’ve begun to blog about various aspects of expressing hospitality. As I’ve written about opening our hearts and homes to welcome others, I’ve come to realize that hospitality can take many forms. I’ve also become aware that the practice of hospitality has to flow out of our relationship with our dear Father who has welcomed us so warmly into His Kingdom. (Think about the story of the prodigal son and the extravagant welcome he received when he returned to his father’s home). This week I’d like to encourage all of us to explore three attitudes or actions regarding the coming holiday.
I. Be Thankful
Just think what God has done for us. He carefully and thoughtfully made each of us in His image. Each of us! But a terrible act by Adam and Eve, prompted by God’s enemy, distorted the beautiful work of God on our behalf. In that instant everything that God had declared to be good began to carry a distortion of His intent. We were separated from our Creator in that instant. More importantly, He was separated from us because He is pure and holy and cannot be in relationship with sin. Enmity was everywhere. We were separated within ourselves. We were separated from one another. We were separated from the natural world that God had made for us to live in.
God was not content that His creation did not even resemble what He had intended at the beginning. He already had a plan. He was going to send the only truly good and pure part of Himself, His own Son Jesus, to take our sins upon Himself and receive our deserved punishment at the cross. When we receive and accept what Jesus did for us, we begin a journey with Him which will ultimately transform and redeem us into who God originally intended us to be AND we get to live with Him for eternity without the presence of sin.
Why would God do this? God is a relational God. He loves us, and He desires to be able to communicate with and enjoy us, to share life with us. May we come to know the height, the depth, and the breadth of His love for us. May we have hearts filled with great gratitude and thanksgiving that our Creator God desires a relationship with us.
II. Receive Others
Salvation is not about ourselves alone. God made every person on earth in His image! Not only does God desire that we come to Him through Jesus Christ and His work on our behalf. He wants us to bring with us our moms and dads, our sisters and brothers, our children and our grandchildren, our nieces and nephews, our friends, our neighbors, and all with whom we are in contact. As you gather this week with friends or family, remember who they are. They too bear God’s image. They too have been tainted by sin. They too can be redeemed by the blood of Jesus.
Treat them with respect. Listen to them and love them. Enjoy them. Forgive them. Pray for them and for God to do a work in their hearts to draw them to Himself. Tell God that you want to partner with Him in whatever way He wants you to, to bring those that you love to Him. Ask for His guidance. Listen and wait. Obey Him.
III. Remember Others
Even as we gather with family and friends this week, remember that there are some in our fellowship who are alone. They may have lost spouses or children. They may have grown old and no longer can live in their own homes. They may be living in pain from disease. They are no longer able to join us in fellowship and worship.
What can you do? Visit them. Write a note or send a card. Play the piano or sing with them. Talk with them. Just show them that they are valuable and valued. Pray for them.
During this week of Thanksgiving, give thanks and worship Jesus for all He has done for us. Carry His love to others wherever you go. Enjoy Him and all His good gifts and share Him and them with others. Happy Thanksgiving!
Who do you know who is no longer able to attend worship and fellowship with us?