|C. Kevin Thompson|
Read: Psalm 100
It was a Tuesday. November 4, 2014. Approximately 8:30 PM.
I was watching television, and a commercial for a department store came on, depicting a woman wearing what was intended to be a Santa-like suit. It was red and white. Her surroundings were also red and white. The music playing had a “Carol of the Bells” feel to it.
Other similar ads followed. As they ended, I sat there, staring at the television. All I could think of was, “What happened to Thanksgiving?”
The next day, my wife and I stopped by a home improvement store. We strolled in the front door and were greeted by a display of huge (I mean, six feet in diameter and eight feet high kind of huge) inflatable “rubber duckies” donning Santa hats, a 20-foot high toy soldier, and various scenes from Disney and Charles Schultz surrounded by more innocuous and less definable renditions of Christmas lore.
The next morning, the last straw got tossed onto the proverbial camel’s back. The TV news anchor reported a large department store announcing its intentions to open earlier than ever on Thanksgiving Day.
Noon. They’re going to open at Noon.
As more and more advertisements arrive on the TV screen with single snowflakes, silly snowmen, and shaken snow globes, it actually makes me a little sad. As fall decorations dwindle to make room for more and more candy and costumes at Halloween and more gadgets and gizmos for Christmas, it causes me to pause.
Why? Because I see this push to expand consumerism as a microcosm of a greater, spiritual dilemma.
Thanksgiving overrun by self-absorption. A season of reflection overshadowed by months of days tainted by greed and avarice.
I realize the concept of a “Thanksgiving Day” is an American thing. The First Thanksgiving in 1621, when Edward Winslow spoke of “a bay full of lobsters,” his sentiments, written to Englanders back home, seemed to give us the heart of the pilgrims, despite the newer renditions offered in many elementary classrooms today, “These things I thought good to let you understand, being the truth of things as near as I could experimentally take knowledge of, and that you might on our behalf give God thanks who hath dealt so favorably with us (Bold added).”1
From George Washington’s urging in 1789 for an official day of thanksgiving and prayer (although an official day was never chosen or enacted) to the formal declaration by President Abraham Lincoln on October 3, 1863, expressing gratitude for the victory at Gettysburg and announcing an official federal holiday be celebrated every 4th Thursday of November, it has been in our American bones to give God thanks.
I also realize that greed and avarice attempting to envelope the Christmas season is nothing new. Charles Dickens made that loud and clear in December, 1843, with some of the most powerful words in fiction (in my humble opinion):
“God bless us every one!'' said Tiny Tim, the last of all.
He sat very close to his father's side upon his little stool. Bob held his withered little hand in his, as if he loved the child, and wished to keep him by his side, and dreaded that he might be taken from him.
“Spirit,” said Scrooge, with an interest he had never felt before, “tell me if Tiny Tim will live.”
“I see a vacant seat,” replied the Ghost, “in the poor chimney-corner, and a crutch without an owner, carefully preserved. If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, the child will die.”
“No, no,” said Scrooge. “Oh, no, kind Spirit! say he will be spared.”
“If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, none other of my race,” returned the Ghost, “will find him here. What then? If he be like to die, he had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”
Scrooge hung his head to hear his own words quoted by the Spirit, and was overcome with penitence and grief.
“Man,” said the Ghost, “if man you be in heart, not adamant, forbear that wicked cant until you have discovered What the surplus is, and Where it is. Will you decide what men shall live, what men shall die? It may be, that in the sight of Heaven, you are more worthless and less fit to live than millions like this poor man's child. Oh God! to hear the Insect on the leaf pronouncing on the too much life among his hungry brothers in the dust!”2
As a writer, do I approach my writing like today’s department stores? Pushing, shoving, forcing my way in front of more and more eyeballs for the simple and sole purpose of selling my wares? And how am I perceived by the buying public, both Christian and non? Should my approach to the (in the words of Ebenezer Scrooge) “much buying and selling” look different, smell different, actually be different?
Or am I thankful? Thankful to be called a writer? Thankful to be published? Thankful to be called God’s child? And if being called God’s child was all I had—with my published books stripped and tossed into the fire (1 Cor. 3:10-15), would I be content and consider it a blessing? If God said, “Don’t write another word,” would I be happy? Would I be obedient?
King David, in Psalm 100, talks about a relationship with God as His people. God’s people entering the temple, ready for worship. God’s people walking into the outer courts full of thanksgiving. And if we remember well, when the “much buying and selling” encroached upon the Holy of Holies, it was the Lord Himself who overturned the tables and declared the guilty parties robbers in a den, possibly turning people away if they couldn’t purchase even a dove (Matt. 21:12-14; cf. Jer. 7:11).
Now that the “House of God” is in the hearts of men (1 Cor. 3:16), how much more poignant are the scenes in Psalm 100 and Matthew 21 for us? Especially as writers? As we lead readers to the throne of God, into the Holy of Holies, do we bring our sacrifices of praise and hearts of thanksgiving? Or do we sit at the gate, behind a table, with our coffers open wide, hands outstretched?
Now that you have passed the town of Thanksgiving, trekking the highway leading upward toward the temple we call Christmas, how much of the former have you packed in your spiritual suitcase for the trip to the latter?
Be truly thankful this holiday season.
And, as a Christian writer, the season never ends (Philippians 4:4-7).
1Winslow, Edward. “A Letter Sent from New England,” A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth. Ed: Dwight B. Heath. New York: Corinth Books, 1963. p. 82.
2Dickens, Charles. “A Christmas Carol.”
A Clandestine Mission.
A Cryptic Message.
A Chaste Promise.
Blake Meyer dreamed of a peaceful end to a dutiful career with the FBI. Married now, his life was taking him in a new direction—a desk job. He would be an analyst. Ride it out until retirement. Be safe so he could enjoy his grandchildren some day.
But when a notable member of the IRA is murdered in a London flat, Blake’s secretive past propels him into the middle of a vindictive, international scheme so hellish and horrific, it will take everything Blake possesses—all of it—to save the United States from the most diabolical terrorist attack to date.
C. KEVIN THOMPSON is an ordained minister, having served churches in New York, Mississippi, Texas, and Iowa. He is married (for 33+ years), has three daughters, two sons-in-law, and five grandchildren. He speaks in churches on occasion, presently works as an assistant principal in a Central Florida school district, and plays the drums in his church’s praise team. He is a huge fan of the TV series 24 and Criminal Minds, loves anything to do with Star Trek, and is a Sherlock Holmes fanatic.
Kevin is a member of ACFW, Word Weavers International, and the Christian Authors Network (CAN), and his published works include two award-winning novels, The Serpent’s Grasp (OakTara, 2012) and 30 Days Hath Revenge (A Blake Meyer Thriller: Book 1) as well as articles in The Wesleyan Advocate, The Preacher, Vista, The Des Moines Register and The Ocala Star-Banner. His interview as a featured writer can be found on the More to Life Magazine’s blog newsletter.
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