Thank You

Many of us have mentioned how different this year’s holidays are going to be. Yesterday, as I and a couple of friends were putting up Christmas trees at our church sanctuary for the first Sunday of Advent, a friend told me that this year will be the first time in fifty years that he will be spending Thanksgiving without inviting other families. And another said that this is the first time he was decorating the church with a heavy heart. No one would expect that our life will go down this way. 

Yes, it may be sad. It may be strange. It may be weird and isolated to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, but I hope that your joy remains. This year, you may only need to buy a smaller size turkey or just settle with a KFC chicken box and have a quiet dinner for two. It may sound depressing, but we can see it from the other way around. This year we may have just freed ourselves from the burden of cleaning and decorating our house and cooking for three families. We are given permission not to participate to be part in the annual political debate with your fanatical relatives around the dining table. And we can be less concerned about our precious china since your crazy four-year-old grand-nephew will not be at our house this year to destroy it. Today, we will have more time to make a shopping list for the Cyber Monday deals or start writing Christmas cards. For sure, many of us, this year, will have more time today to think of the many things we are thankful for. 

Gratitude is an act of remembering. Remembering the big and small gifts we have received throughout our life. Remembering those who came before us who continue to inspire us to be strong in our faith. Remembering every hand that comes our way in helping us to be the person we are today. Remembering the God who was and is and is going to continue to be with us every step of our way. The list goes on. Often than not, our thanksgiving season went by unnoticed, and on Friday our minds quickly shift into Christmas mode without even giving ourselves a chance to pause, to remember, and to give thanks.  

Today, with the prayer of Apostle Paul, “I thank my God every time I remember you!” (Philippians 1:3) This year marks my seventeenth Thanksgiving season with you. In Indonesia, people celebrate sweet seventeen as a sign of a child entering adulthood. Yes, I am celebrating sweet seventeenth Thanksgiving today. I remember enjoying my first “giant chicken”. I remember my unique transitional times coming fresh from Indonesia as an architect and had to teach American kids about God which ended up them teaching more about slangs and American cultures 🙂 I remember one holiday when my office is filled with sweaters and warm shirts from Trinity folks who probably thought that this poor Indonesian boy would not survive winter if he did not dress properly 🙂 Today, I remember the chance you have given me to be your pastor. Something that I have never even dare to dream even for my wildest dream. I remember those who came on my way and now have gone before me who paved ways for me. I remember each one of you with fondness in my heart for accepting me the way I am despite my flaws and my shortcomings as a human. It is only by God’s grace that we can continue in this journey of faith. 

Friends, I pray that today your heart will be filled with joy of thanksgiving.  The joy that comes only from the Lord no matter how weird and strange you may find your today’s celebration is. 

May God bless you on this Thanksgiving day. 

Love and prayers, 

Vincent Arishvara 11262020