So seeing as how it’s Thanksgiving, I feel I should make an obligatory Thanksgiving Day post. Not only because it’s one of the more underappreciated holidays of the year, but also because it’s good to take a step back and remember what we’re thankful for.
I could list all sorts of things I’m thankful for… my job, my family, the satisfaction I get out of a good drawing, the ENORMOUS dinner we had at my grandparents… But I feel I really should single one out for examination. So here it is.
I’m thankful for the communion of the saints. Or, more simply, Church.
Odd thing to say, probably, given my track record in church. I can readily admit I’m not always attentive during the sermon, certainly not as much as I should be. On a few difficult occasions, my little brother has even had to pinch me awake. Even in terms of communion, I have a bad habit of going off to hide in the library until it’s time to leave. So I’m not really the greatest example of what I’m thankful for. But I am.
Church is, in many ways, one of the most remarkable institutions in existence. It brings together and unites people from all classes, backgrounds, and generations. In some cases, even races. (Though not as often as it should, to the mutual regret of all involved.) In my church alone, we have successful small businessmen, accountants, concrete mixers, and truck drivers. We have people going back beyond World War II, and families that are just starting out on their own. We have new converts and people whose families have been in the same church for generation. And all these varied people meet together and talk as equals. It’s a lot more incredible than most people give it credit.
Nor’s that the only thing. When we sing music in church, often we are singing along with Christians from as early as the 1800’s, the 1700’s, or even the 1500’s. Ancestors from England, Holland, Germany who sang the same songs (in different languages). When we recite the Apostle’s Creed, we do so, as the minister reminds us, “with the church throughout the ages, the church throughout the world.” Apostle’s Creed goes back to Roman times. And that’s not even taking into account how far back the Bible itself goes.
I may be psyching out about this a little, because a year or so ago I wrote a paper about this sort of thing and it got me really excited. But now, whenever someone tries to tell me that the church is a divisive force that only stirs up trouble, I always wonder, “has this guy ever been IN a church?”