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Below this is the full text of Pastor John's article
Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat!
Have you ever looked at how we go from threatening people to give us candy straight into a season of giving thanks? I have to admit, I'm not completely sure what that means yet, but it is something interesting to think about.
The progression that we take from October to November to December is fascinating. In one month we celebrate taking things from others. I know that's not what we really mean when we're doing that, but the basic premise of Halloween is that if someone doesn't give you candy, then you can play a trick on them. Even worse, if they dare to give you something healthy like raisins or an apple, then you can play really big trick on them.
Not that I would know anything about that. I really wouldn't, if only because I'm not particularly good at thinking up tricks to play.
But then in November we come into a time when we give thanks for the things that we have received. Often, we give thanks for family, sometimes for other blessings that have come our way. Traditionally, this is a time when we give thanks for a good harvest that has come in. This is what we have received from what we view as the very first Thanksgiving all those many years ago, when one group of people had very little, but another shared what they had in a celebration with them.
Finally, in December we make another transition. We go from giving thanks for what we have received to giving things to others. I know that there is also a big tradition of receiving gifts from people, but how much time do you spend on figuring out what you are giving to someone else? There is a lot of intentionality going towards giving to someone else.
This is a wonderful movement that we see take place, from selfishness to altruism, from self-centered to other-centered, in the last part of the year.
This year, perhaps more so than many others, this is something that we need to focus on. In a world and a nation that is fraught with as much anxious and divisive energy as ours is, how can we make this transition? How do we make these steps? We can't go directly from October to December because that's a really large jump, but we can go to November.
Ask yourself, as we go through this month, and as we look to December, how can I make that transition? First, how can I give thanks for what I have received, and how can I help someone else do the same? When you think you have a good answer for that question, then begin to look at how you can begin to give to someone else.
The example that we see coming in Jesus' birth shows us how God wants us to live, not focused on what we get, but focused on what we can give. Go out this month and live in this time of transition, and know that God has already shown us the way through.