The end of November is almost here. Every year, this is a traditional time of celebration and remembrance. Most Americans would say, “Of course, Thanksgiving!” and they would be right. But there is another time of celebration and remembrance that always falls close to Thanksgiving. On November 30, the Christian Church observes the end of its Church Year. It is coincidence that these two fall so close to each other, yet at the same time, share similar themes.
Thanksgiving is not an official Church holiday. It is a day where our government and citizens agree that we should each remember the gifts that God has given our country. We pray to God and thank Him for the gifts and blessings He has given us. It is good for each citizen to do this. Remembering the many ways that God has blessed our country and families will help us live in greater peace. It will also help us to be humble and remember that what makes our country great is not ourselves, nor our ancestors, but God who has had mercy on us and blessed us. Humble trust in God and a proper appreciation of His gifts is one of the most important things to help our country continue to be healthy and strong for generations to come.
The End of the Church Year
The Christian Church has had its own calendar for many centuries. During the year it gives us seasons to remember important events in the life of Jesus. The Church year gives a wonderful rhythm to life. All year long there is something beautiful to remember and celebrate about our beautiful Savior. As the year is ending, in November, Christians remember that Jesus has ascended into Heaven and reigns in power. He watches over all things on earth for the good of His Church and the spread of the Gospel. And we remember that one day, known but to God the Father, Jesus will return in glory. The dead will be raised, and Jesus will judge all people, and bring those who believe in Him to Heaven.
Persecution of the Church
During this time, Christians remember that the world has regularly persecuted the Church. All around the world, and through all times, people who rejected Jesus as Lord also fought against the Church. Many Christians were shunned from society, exiled, tortured, or even martyred. Often it got so bad that governments have embraced the persecution of Christians.
One of the things that is unique about America is that it has given freedom to all religions from its inception. Christianity is not the official religion of America, but has grown and thrived through its freedom. The truth and beauty and comfort of the Gospel has caused the faith to spread all around our land. Christians participate freely in all areas of society and government life, and America has been blessed in countless ways by their dedicated service.
Remember that when the Church was persecuted, Jesus was there to help and support and protect His flock. We look to Him to keep us strong, no matter what troubles may come to us because we follow Him. And we thank Him that this country has been a haven of protection for people of all faiths, including our own. And we pray that this haven may remain and thrive. But we also know from the Bible, that no haven in this world lasts forever. We must be diligent, regularly hear the Gospel, and support the spread of the Good News of Jesus. Temptations to leave Jesus come in many ways, not only from persecution, but also from false doctrine and from the pleasures of this world.
Looking Back and Looking Forward
Since no haven in this world lasts forever, we do not put our trust in a country, or in ourselves. We put our trust in Jesus. We can look even farther back and remember how God has kept the Gospel alive through the millennia. Thanks be to God for His gifts.
And we can also look forward to the years that await. We can remember the challenges promised to come, and so we prepare by staying strong in Christ and His Word. He has always been faithful. He always will be faithful.
The years ahead will be filled with challenges, but also with the sweetness of His grace, the forgiveness of sins to all who believe, and the hope of eternal life. The years ahead will be filled with opportunities to show love to others, to walk in courage together, and to strive to bring His light to those in darkness.
I hope from these brief thoughts you can see how Thanksgiving and the End of the Church Year have similar themes.
Thanksgiving is when our citizens look back to how God blessed our country and we thank Him for His mercy, and ask for ongoing blessing.
The End of the Church Year is when Christians look even farther back and thank God for saving us in Jesus. And it is when Christians look forward down the curving road of life and thank Him for the way He will protect us and the Church until the time He comes again.
You are welcome
On behalf of all the folks at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, I wish you a happy Thanksgiving.
I wish you the peace of Christ Jesus at the End of the Church Year.
I invite you to come and worship with us as the New Year begins. It will be a beautiful year of grace in Christ and love for one another.
Loneliness and pain fills the world. But this is a place where you can find comfort and family and peace. You are welcome here. Please come, it will be very good for you.
In Christ Jesus,
Pastor Jeffrey Horn