Thanksgiving (how you can make it happy)

Grace, grace, God’s grace
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within
Grace, grace, God’s grace
Grace that is greater than all our sin  – Julia H. Johnston

th-7“So what are you going to write about tomorrow?” Marti asked me yesterday. When I didn’t reply right away, she went on, “Please don’t write about what you’re thankful for, and then brag about your family.” By that she didn’t mean that it wasn’t okay to brag about one’s family — we all do that — she meant that when we go public with our families, we have a tendency to tell only the good parts.

So shall I drag out each one of our family members and tell the worst thing about everybody? I could fill up a week’s worth of Catches doing just that, but I’m not so sure this is the time or the place for that. There is a time and a place where facing the worst about us is appropriate, but this is not it. Suffice it to say that we all could go either way on this. To tell only the worst might depress you. To tell only the best would probably depress you even more.

We are all dysfunctional, and the place where you see that more than any other is in the family. Families show off their dysfunction because we are with each other so much. You can fool some people, but you can’t fool your family. That’s why the best thing about the holidays is that we all get together with family members once again. Which also means that the worst thing about the holidays is that we all get together with family members once again.

That’s why I’m going to tell you that the greatest thing I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving is the grace of God. What an amazing thing, that we can all be received, accepted and loved by the one who knows us completely — better than we know ourselves. The only thing that lets us all get away with ourselves is the grace of God. And the only thing that lets us look at each other and love what we see is the grace of God.

Here’s what’s so good about the grace of God and the holidays; we can all look at each other through the eyes of grace. That’s what grace turned outward is all about. We can look at everybody through the eyes of grace regardless of whether they have received it or not. You look out through the same grace that received you. You turn it out to everyone else. If it takes God’s grace to love me (and it believe me it does), then through that grace, I can love anybody.

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13 Responses to Thanksgiving (how you can make it happy)

  1. roughrider45 says:

    Yes Catch people, Truly amazing grace! Amen!

  2. Hal Pettegrew says:

    We have that coal fire going! It is a beautiful snow.

    Sent from my iPhone

  3. TimC says:

    Remember those who don’t have family with whom they can gather.

  4. Jane Tant says:

    Thanks for quoting a hymn that is sung way too seldom!

    • Gee – are hymns even sung in any of the “cool” churches any more?
      (See John’s Catch from October 31st: “Out beyond the ‘cool’ cathedral”)
      Traditional carols at Christmas – often with a modern arrangement – or songs sung at Easter – occasional hymns re-tooled for a younger audience – are about the only time todays worship leaders are even near the ballpark of a good “old-fashioned” hymn.
      There’s nothing wrong with most of todays “Christian” tunes but the blatant neglect of history, heritage, and the foundations (or traditions) from which the 21st century church has evolved is very short-sighted and self-serving.
      Relevance is, indeed, the new god.
      A lot of churches have – either knowingly or ignorantly – built a wall rather than a bridge between the past and future and, hence, dropped the baton when it comes to running the relay race between generations…

      • jwfisch says:

        You’ve definitely hit on something here. All this started with the motivation of reaching the word and has now come down to the motivation of being cool.

  5. Peter Leenheer says:

    Habakuk 3:17 – 19 basically says I will rejoice in the Lord eventhough I have nothing so to speak to be thankful for because the crops failed, my family is dysfunctional, bankruptcy is around the corner, I am homeless, it looks like God abandoned me……Yet will I rejoice in the Lord! I can only do that through God’s grace. Thanks John for reminding us that God’s grace is all we need.

    I once gave a devotional at an old age home on a thanksgiving weekend. What are people thankful for who can barely see, sit all day in a wheelchair, arthritis pain is excruciating, their children don’t visit them….neglect on the kids part and perhaps the people were not all that kind to their family in their younger years, some had cancer or some other terminal disease, and dementia had them partially aware of who they were, and where they are. The above passage was used, and the audience including the nurses present sat paying attention. It was my first attempt at ever doing such a thing, so what do you say to people who are bereft of all they valued in this life and have death staring them in the face. The Holy Spirit was kind enough to give me the above passage. You reminded that God’s grace is all we need. I saw that on their faces when I spoke, at the time I didn’t get it, but I do now.

  6. Mark Seguin says:

    Like to second this and add an Amen too: “If it takes God’s grace to love me (and it believe me it does), then through that grace, I can love anybody.”
    PS Brother Peter Leeheer what u wrote touched my heart – thank-you!

  7. Cynthia Vera says:

    Happy “grace” thanksgiving to Everyone! Love Cynthia

  8. LT says:

    Thank you for this. As I spent Thanksgiving with my family, I was reminded why I chose not to live near my mother. She was driving me crazy with her “my way or the highway” attitude, and I kept getting more and more angry at her inability to show love and tolerance toward people of other faiths, races, political beliefs, and especially toward my nieces (her granddaughters) who are gay and are distressed at not being accepted by her. Then it dawned on me that I need to learn to show grace and tolerance toward my mother. Thanks for your help in reminding me that we are all dysfunctional and that I’ve been seeing myself as better than her. I’m sure I’ll need to be reminded many more times. Thank you for all you do!

    • Mark Seguin says:

      Please don’t feel alone brother LT…

      • Tim says:

        This kind of fits my facebook status last week.
        My status asked, “what’s on your mind”.
        I’ll tell ya. Christmas cartoons. In particular the one about rudoff and the island of misfit toys.
        Most everyone feels like a misfit once in a while.
        I asked Emily once what she liked about being in our family. She said, “Knowing I belong there”. In other words, she fit in.
        Not everyone feels that way at Christmas, even when they’re coming home.
        I know I have friends that have family gone and some are estranged from their families as well. They could easily feel like a misfit.
        Now it would be easy to pretend like I’m not a misfit and I should reach out to all the misfits around me to save them or help them. To play the hero.
        Lets serve dinner and welcome all the misfits in our lives.
        The truth is we’re all the same. If I somehow think I’m set apart from others I will quickly become separate from others. Who’s the misfit then?
        If I / we have the courage to admit we are the same let’s open our eyes to those around us and invite them in. Thanksgiving, Christmas or how about just for the fun of it. Not because of what we have to offer them, but because of what we can offer each other.
        Admit it, you are a misfit. If you have the courage to admit that, you might have the courage to not judge someone else.
        And that’s what’s on my mind!

      • jwfisch says:

        Way to go, Tim. Well said.

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