This coming Monday will be a national holiday for Canada, Thanksgiving Day. Historically, Canadian Thanksgiving has less association with any religious meaning, or any specific historical events. Generally, Canadians see this long weekend as a time for family reunion, and a time for relax. As a seminary student, recently I am working on a reading course, and in order to satisfy this course, I have to read two masterpieces of Augustine of Hippo (354-430), City of God and On Trinity. Within both of these works, Augustine discussed many on the Christian doctrine of Trinity. In this blog post, I am going to give some reflections of Thanksgiving on the basis of the understanding of the Trinity.
I. Praise Be To The Father, Who Created The Heavens & Earth.
Yesterday, in our Bible study cell group, we studied on Psalm 95, which calls people who fears (or, respects) the LORD to worship and praise Him. The psalmist declares, that our Lord is the rock of our salvation (v.1), a great God, a great King above all gods (v. 3), and He is our Maker (v. 6).
The primary reason for us to celebrate Thanksgiving is for God’s creational grace. He created everything for His glory, and made everything His. People deny God, but enjoy God’s creatures. I am wondering by what kind of nerve, one would deny the Creator, who created and provides!
“O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens… when I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place” (Ps 8:1, 3).
I can still remember few weeks ago, I was camping, and at night, when I look up to the sky, the stars of the heaven amazed me, and I wondered how great this Creator is! Therefore, we shall give thanks and praise the God the Father, who created everything, and provides our every need, the food we need, the water we drink, and all the goods we plant and labored.
II. Praise The Son, Who Reconciled Us.
“Reconciliation” is a word we do not use very often today; its meaning describes a rebuilt relationship. Jesus the Son told a parable of the prodigal son, and because of the love of his father, the broken relationship was rebuilt by grace. This is a good scene to describe our relationship with God. In Romans, the Apostle Paul tells his readers, who were Christian believers in Rome, that they shall “rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation,” (Rom 5:11) along with all Christians through the ages everywhere.
Jesus the Christ is the center of our Christian faith, our theology, and even our interpretation of the Scripture. The reason for such Christ-centered reality is our depraved nature both from our ancestor Adam, and from our own nature of sin. It is interesting to think, that in the early 19th century, in order to deny God their Creator, people of Darwinism denied their ancestor first by various fake scientific facts, and surprisingly such fake scientific facts are still being treated as science, and being recorded in educational textbooks. What an ironic! We shall not surprise the fact people hates God, and refuses God, since it happened long time ago from the time of our ancestor Adam and Eve. Thus, all human nature is self-centered, and all the things we are doing are to try to glorify our own names, and try to make people praise us. I do not have to provide many proofs for such arguments from far beyond. You can know it, hear it, and even experience it by yourself. Go and listen to the conversions in subways, among students and colleagues. The self-centered friendship is really built on the fake praising of others. We have no hope! Life on this earth is hopeless, and what we are waiting for, though people do not want to mention or think about it, is death!
Paul argues, that just as sin and death came into human race through one man, who is Adam, “so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men,” (Rom 5:18), which is through the death of Jesus the Christ! Such is a simple truth, that even one who never receive any degrees of education can understands it, but the scholars and wise of this world can never understand it, since if they understand it, they will not follow the ancient heretics and tries to find proofs to deny such Savior, who is the only hope of human race! Now, eternal life is given through Jesus’ resurrection, and as Jesus proclaims that no one can come to God except through him.
Then, should not we give thanks to our Savior at this special occasion for the work of death and resurrection of our Savior had done for me! Surely it is a good time for us to slow down our busy schedule of works, and gather together as families, to reflect on the redemptive work of Jesus our Lord, and to set our hope on the “eighth Sabbath,” which is the new heavens and new earth to come! Give thanks to Jesus the Christ!
III. Praise The Spirit, Who Makes Us To Bear Fruits In Christ.
Thanksgiving remarks the changing of seasons, it kisses goodbye to summer, and welcomes the season of harvest. I guess it is also the reason for us to purchase pumpkins for this fall festival, and have pumpkin pies for the sake of our stomach. All these remind us it is the season of collecting, and harvest.
During this summer, I was reflecting on conversion of faith, and by the Lord’s help, reading of Scriptures and books, I finally got some understandings. Conversion is like the process of the growth of a tree. The farmer plants the seed of the tree into good soils, waters it, takes care of it, and waits for it’s sprouting. It is the process of conversion. Unless one hides the seed of Gospel in the soil of heart, and by the Spirit’s help, the Gospel cannot root in one’s heart, and one cannot become a Christian. And unless one destroys the old worldview completely, the person cannot receive the new worldview, which is Christ-centered. And as the new sprout grows and roots deeply, the Gospel will rule over one’s heart, and become more mature in the person’s faith. Till one day, the sprout finally grow as a huge tree, it is ready to bear fruits, and such are the fruits the farmer waits for the harvest.
Surely, it is God the Spirit, who dwells within believers, enables believers to bear fruits in Christ (Rom 6:22). So let us exam our spiritual life in this special season of harvest, are we bearing any spiritual fruits in Christ?!
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
For who has known the mind of the Lord,
Or who has been his counselor?
Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?
For from him
and through him
and to him
are all things.
To him be glory forever. Amen.
May this be a doxology for all those who fear the Lord, who is the Triune God!