by Kristin Huffman, Associate Director
The weather is getting cooler, even in central Texas where I live—fall is here! According to the ads on TV and the internet, and the decorations being put up at the mall and some homes, Christmas is coming! I’ll admit, I love the Christmas season: the lights and manger scenes and cooking peanut brittle. But I don’t want celebrating Thanksgiving to get lost in the pre-Christmas activity. I need to simply stop and be still—reflect on the grace of God and give Him thanks.
I know that Thanksgiving can also be a difficult season, especially this year after facing the difficulties of the pandemic. Life is still a challenge for many who are experiencing loss and grief, or who are in a sad and discouraging place this holiday season. I am personally aware of my own sadness this year—wondering how to live in and through both Thanksgiving and Christmas without my mom, who died in the spring. She fell ill with COVID and never got back to health. She had a long, good life, dying at 93. I miss her, but knowing that she is finally well and whole with Jesus leads me to thank God for her life, her love and her faith. I’m grateful.
Thanksgiving can be a special day to gather with family and friends, or simply spend the day alone, reflecting on God’s grace. It’s not about what we serve at the table, but it’s simply the table itself: the gathering and love that is shared. It’s a day that time and space are set aside to give God thanks. Now, it’s not just at Thanksgiving that we are able to practice gratitude—we have that opportunity daily—but it is good to have a public reminder to spend time and energy thanking God. While Thanksgiving is an American holiday, many cultures share a tradition of practicing gratitude.
One of Frontier Fellowship’s Associate Directors, Taliilee Fiqruu, is from Ethiopia. She recently told me about Irreecha, a celebration among Arsi Oromo peoples where there is a similar focus on gratitude to our Thanksgiving holiday. It’s interesting to recognize that this festival is celebrated by all of the Oromo people, regardless of their religion. This year, Irreecha took place over the first week of October. Oromos worldwide gather in community to thank God and celebrate peace and unity. This time of year marks the end of the dark and rainy winter. Irreecha gives an opportunity to thank Waaqa (God or Creator) for all the bounties and mercies they have received throughout the year and to welcome the new season of plentiful harvest.
One of the great blessings we have as followers of Jesus is that we direct our thanks to the triune God: Father, Son and Spirit. Our loving and relational God promises to never leave us or forsake us; God is with us no matter in what kind of state we find ourselves in. So, let’s not only carve a turkey, but also carve out space to reflect on God’s goodness to us.