As I write, the presidential election is fast approaching after a punishing, almost two-year campaign. For me it’s been a highly disappointing, even depressing, time. For not only am I personally unimpressed with both candidates, but I worry about how, in some ways, their campaigns reflect the state of our culture, itself both ill-mannered and acrimonious.
Then again, I’m also aware that we’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving, my favorite national holiday, during the same month as the election. For me Thanksgiving is a quiet, contemplative day, one absent the crass commercialism that too often affects the others. It is a day that allows one to step back from all that’s wrong with the world and remember our blessings, which are legion.
In one church we attended while on vacation, as I mentioned a few Sundays ago, the pastor announced, only somewhat tongue-in-cheek, that he hoped people had taken his advice from the week before to “fast from the media,” with all that that entails.
He quickly added, “And if you didn’t, I’ll bet you wish you had!”
He then went on to remind us church folk, us Christians, what ought to be obvious, that “human beings aren’t the measure of all things.” Yet how we let our world define what’s considered of greatest importance.
That’s not to say that the events of our world are irrelevant. To this point, someone on our recent trip blithely announced, “God couldn’t care less whom we elect as president!”
I’m not at all sure that’s true, despite the fact that God’s purposes are not ultimately dependent on human action. God’s will, in other words, shall not be thwarted by human disobedience.
The Christian life is centered on our relationship with our Creator, or, as the New Testament defines it, our new life in Christ. Our sense of reality thus is transferred from the things of this world to the things of the Kingdom, things paradoxically both foreign and basic to human existence.
We were created by God, to know God, and to live within the context of God’s ineffable love. Just as we (hopefully) grow in any relationship, our fidelity to God changes us and matures us into citizens of that which is above.
Our involvement in this world is not irrelevant, as I say, for we are called to love both God and neighbor. But our ultimate goal in life is located beyond the narrow confines of this world. We are indeed “strangers in a strange land,” “sojourners” who are “in the world, but not of it.”
It is this we should remember as we celebrate Thanksgiving, a day that is more than appreciation for material blessings, but a day of deep and profound recognition of the blessings of eternal life, manifest in this life and beyond.
Grace and peace,
Thomas C. Leinbach, Pastor