As the sanctuary filled for the annual Thanksgiving Day service hosted by my Christian Reformed congregation, I couldn’t help but think “This is good.” I witnessed:
Individuals and families gathering with their brothers and sisters in Christ, transforming a holiday into a day for corporate worship.
Parents taking their children to church on a day other than Sunday, their actions speaking louder than words about the Lord who is the giver of every good and perfect gift.
Predictable liturgies and rituals – like food drives, gift giving, special offerings - nourishing souls and marking the passage of yet another year.
Blended worship with those gathered singing old and new psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.
Multiple generations led by patriarchs and matriarchs – accompanied by the kind of pride appropriate for a sanctuary – reserving entire rows for children, grandchildren, and great grand-children.
Parishioners expecting a predictable message from their preacher, a message measured more by its pastoral overtones than its oratory.
The homecoming of countless friends in Christ returning to their spiritual mother, if but for an hour, to sit and stand in familiar but sacred space where they have previously heard God’s voice in unforgettable ways.
When congregations gather on holidays so many good things happen. Can we not conclude that gatherings by the church on holidays – as much a cultural phenomenon as religious - make a lasting contribution to our spiritual formation?