Last evening I watched a television show for 30 minutes. It was about “the first official Thanksgiving.” The main point seemed to be that one year prior to the date we Americans usually celebrate a delegation arrived into Jamestown and gave glory to God as they had been directed to do by their English authorities and benefactors. It made virtually no difference to me. I enjoy history; but more than history, I enjoy reflecing on the human experience.
The reason I enjoy the tradition of giving thanks to Almighty God on a designated holiday is not so much about America as it is about the human experience of entering a new land, getting a new start, beginning a new life. That experience is as old as Adam and Eve. And as old as the first human birth. And this experience has happened over and over, often with great conflict, but sometimes without incident.
I think of the world view and lifestyles those in the New Testament may have had as they made their homes and communities in Palestine. And by that, I refer to first century Palestine, pictured in this map from “The Bible Journey.” What must life have been like for them?
Jesus and his disciples seemed to have observed a world in which the arch-enemy of God roamed about to deceive and destroy and divide and devour. Sure, they had their laughs, their banter about personal quirks of each other and probably about the authorities and their escapades into power. But they confronted the evil of the day, and their following grew as they brought Truth to face the powers which would put It to death.
The Land of this activity was the stage in which the glory of our salvation was dramatized, and the People who were the actors became the human vehicles of spreading the Truth, the Word, upon its Victory over the dominating power over and under and throughout human existence: Sin.
Entering a New Land, a Reign or Kingdom of God, is to leave a spiritual place — represented by a geographical place — and to take up residence and establish a homestead within the four-square City of God. Everyone who has been praying for our arrival is there, and we are moved (not commanded) to offer glory and praise to the Almighty “on that day.” Angels will sing, the Saints will rejoice, and we will sit at the banquet table unlike any of human imagination. Even the beautiful Thanksgiving Table my wife is creating for whomever chooses to join us on this, American Thanksgiving 2017 — as beautiful as it is with Fall colors and flowers and candles — and as aromatic as it is with spices and “all the fixins'” — can only prepare us for the Bounty of Grace we will find when we finally take our seat in the banquet hall of God. In a New Land.
We have some wonderful new material coming forth for the Mission for Biblical Literacy readers and those who follow the Disciples College. Watch for more.