I need something positive in my life so badly, I decided to put up my Christmas tree. Am I terrible person to pre-empt Thanksgiving?
A: Not at all. Whatever it takes to bring a ray of sunshine into our gloomy world, let’s do it!
Last year about this time I would have lambasted anyone who jumped the gun on Christmas décor. Generations passed would have scoffed at a mere wreath on a storefront door until the day after Thanksgiving officially launched the Christmas season. It’s been our American tradition to wait, give our hearty thanks to God on Turkey Day and then move serenely into Advent and Christmas.
But that was all before.
Decorating protocols mattered before the spirit of greed took hold and we began to see Christmas décor for sale with Halloween (a telling and prophetic sign that darkness, which stalks the Church, had succeeded in shared billing.) Then, the remaining holiday traditions held until Covid-19 rocked the world with its ongoing saga of deceitful propaganda, illness, panic and fear. Now, with every deranged and confusing news-cycle, we citizens inch down further into a haze of despair, apathy or grief. Depression is as common as a headache. Lethargy and the consequential weight gain have become our national complaint as the financial hand-wringers scour Wall Street numbers for desperately needed up-ticks. Jesus is the hope of the world, yes, and we are clinging to him! But we still need hope in the natural world, too—the every-day ray of light where we find something to buoy our sinking attitudes.
There’s nothing as hope-filled as a sparkling Christmas tree. These nostalgic trees are more than a lovely decoration; they often tell the story of our family legacy and testify to God’s presence in history. Yes! Put up the tree and sit in the dark; staring in wonder at the twinkling lights like a child again. Why the heck not?
Then wake up the next morning and give thanks for Thanksgiving! Plan your menu, whether you dine alone or with an unsanctioned throng! Get happy about what is going right in your life…in the nation and the world. Hang the negativity for a day or two and gleefully craft a solid list of your blessings. Choose to focus on giving thanks and change your mind-set in the process. “I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders. I will rejoice and be jubilant in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High” (Psalm 9:1, 2, NASB.)
Did you know that the phrase “give thanks” appears exactly seventy-seven times in the Bible? I’m a longtime reader of the New American Standard version, so an electronic search for that phrase yielded a stunning example of one of God’s giant billboards. There I was, gloomy and exhausted for no apparent reason, slowly wading into the long list of emails from my wonderful readers around the world. I popped over to biblegateway.com to launch a self-directed, pep-talk on positivity. God stared me down with “give thanks” in double sevens.
In the best-selling book, Numbers that Preach, Pastor Troy Brewer explains the significance of the number seven: “It denotes the Spirit of God. This is the number that marks where God is doing something by His Spirit apart from any other source. It is the number that marks His rest—where He rules over all things created. Seven is the perfection of Spirit.” (Aventine Press, 2016)
Let us take this moment to exhale and relieve ourselves of our burdens; our glooms and dooms. God is ruling over all things and he’s doing it by his Spirit; not by any other source. While our partnership with God in prayer is the activating current to fuel God’s activity on the earth…the Lord Jesus is effortlessly solving the world’s problems right now.
Believe. Rest. Breathe. Then decorate until you’re happy again.
Do you have a question or comment for Pastor Adrienne? Send your inquiries to: email@example.com or write to P.O. Box 214, Harrison, OH 45030. For more information, please visit www.adriennewgreene.com or tune into the “Ask Pastor Adrienne” YouTube channel for sermons and insights.