New Apostolic Church USA

It Is What We Make It

"Yes, we celebrate Thanksgiving!" from the 2020 Autumn Vision Newsletter

"Yes, we celebrate Thanksgiving!"

This was my response last year to a member who asked if we still celebrate our church Thanksgiving. The reason for his inquiry was because he had heard nothing about it in his congregation and was saddened by this.

Perhaps, others may have also experienced or wondered about this, so I would like to highlight a few ways in which we very much anticipate and celebrate Thanksgiving.

In 2017, we began a series of teachings and articles called Giving is… with aspects of thanksgiving woven throughout them. Simply put, we give because we know that God has given us everything! The additional resources developed for this theme have helped create the understanding that giving is a fundamental characteristic of true Christians and they can give in many different ways. Certain aspects of our international theme for last year, “Rich in Christ,” focused on thankfulness. Our response to the richness that our Father shares with us must be thanksgiving, expressed through the use of our talents, gifts, time, resources and our offerings. In various small group sessions, we have reflected on the theme of giving and very intentionally connected it to thanksgiving and how this prompts us to action.

The Psalmist expressed so beautifully in Psalm 103 - Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits…

We can understand in this verse that the expression “bless” means to increase or magnify God in our lives.

Thus, through various themes, writings, and encouragements, we have tried to inspire everyone to become a Christian that lives a life of gratitude and generosity, even beyond the celebration of a single Thanksgiving day once a year. Our individual nature and congregational culture must evolve to be one that continuously reflects on the goodness of God and discovers new ways to express our gratitude to Him every day, so that giving truly becomes part of our nature.

This is what Jesus taught in Matthew 25: 31-40… for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink… Interestingly, the Lord showed in this instruction that those who had freely supported and had given to others directly created a bond to Christ Himself, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me... Further, the nature of giving had become such an integral part of their lives, Jesus had to remind them of their actions; without flourish or recognition they had simply provided when they saw a need.

As this attribute grows in us, it culminates in the celebration of Thanksgiving Sunday. Leading up to this event, over the past ten years, a Thanksgiving article has always appeared in the Summer Vision to remind everyone of this special church holiday. Beginning in October, a banner is generally posted on our website to make it easy for members to make their Thanksgiving offering electronically if they so desire. In addition, some years ago, through messages to our ministers and articles published in the Summer and Autumn Vision Newsletters, we have encouraged congregations and families to create a Season of Thanksgiving starting in October, rather than only focusing on one day of Thanksgiving in November.

Of course, we still happily decorate the altars festively for Thanksgiving Sunday as a simple expression of thanksgiving for the harvest that our Father has richly provided. And, we bring our Thanksgiving offerings that we have prepared as a humble token of our gratitude and love.

Yes, due to the pandemic this year, things are different. Perhaps, not everyone may be able to attend Thanksgiving Sunday in their congregation. Yet, I encourage everyone to bring thanksgiving to the forefront by speaking to your ministers and brothers and sisters. If possible, volunteer to create activities or times of worship for your congregation to express gratitude, gather some members and do something for your community. After all, each one of us is the church. We all can contribute to the life of our congregation and share with others the joy, the feelings, the passion of expressing our humble gratitude to our ever-giving almighty Father.

Ultimately, Thanksgiving is what each of us makes it for ourselves.

I wish for you an enriched season of Thanksgiving and a blessed Thanksgiving Sunday.

- LR Kolb

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