Thursday, November 28, 2013

Celebrating Escape From A Personal Egypt

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17

I don’t know about you, but I’m not buying it any more. Just about every depiction of the first Thanksgiving I’ve seen shows great tables of food spilling over plates and tumbling out of cornucopias. Even our turkey platters are covered in art that seems to provide proof positive that life in America began as one of excess and should remain one today. Well, I’m just not buying it anymore. Not when I see the number of hungry children served by our back pack ministry at Juan Seguin Elementary increasing. Yes, that’s right. The number is increasing not decreasing. Not when I see the number of people we serve at Center of Hope increasing not decreasing. Yes, that’s right. Increasing, not decreasing. Translation – the number of poor in our community is growing. Need in our community is growing.

And so it is that I’ve begun this holiday season by asking myself, at what point did Thanksgiving become a festival of American plentitude instead of a holy day of worshipful acknowledgement of God’s providence and provision? Don’t get me wrong, I feel certain the original settlers of Plymouth Plantation “feasted.” But let’s add some context to that word feast. You see, the children of Israel “feasted” as they prepared to leave Egypt. They ate roasted lamb and unleavened bread in haste – with their shoes on and their loins girded – ready to leave the misery of Egyptian bondage. The Mayflower Pilgrims tasted their own share of misery as well. After escaping persecution they survived a harsh winter living aboard the Mayflower as it lay anchored in Cape Cod bay. More than fifty of them died while waiting to see the promised land of America. Food and supplies ran dangerously low while scurvy, tuberculosis and pneumonia were running rampant in the close quarters of the 100 foot Mayflower. So, when the rag tag band of believers finally did have occasion to “feast” in celebration of God’s providence, I’m inclined to believe it was more than a harvest celebration. I’m also persuaded to think the feast itself would have fallen short of modern American expectations. To the Pilgrims and their Wampanoag friends, food was a precious resource to be cherished and shared – not flaunted then thrown away.

Well then . . . if Thanksgiving isn’t about flaunting American plentitude what exactly is it about? It’s about thanking God that He is in the business of bringing more and more people out of their own personal Egypts. He brought the pilgrims out of the persecution and oppression that was the 16th century Church of England. He brought you and me out of the oppressive darkness of sin and transferred us to the Kingdom of His own dear Son. And every day He continues to bring others out of personal bondage and slavery. The bondage of addiction. The slavery of materialism and acquisitiveness. The Egypt of hunger. The Egypt of poverty.

So, as I sometimes tell my Bible classes at the end of a particularly challenging lesson – do something! This Thanksgiving holiday I pray that you will do something too. Make serving the “least of these” a part of your family’s Thanksgiving tradition. Serve at Center of Hope. Donate to the Packs of Love ministry. Buy a needy family a thanksgiving meal. Share the gospel with someone. Love someone who appears unlovable. Give a blanket or a coat to a homeless person. Anything. Just do something.

Scripture to Claim

He has sent Me to proclaim freedom to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed... Luke 4:18b  (HCSB)

Submitted by John Dennie

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