Hands-on holiday

Pastoral Messages | November 22, 2017

One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving (second only to canned cranberry sauce) is the chance to make hand-drawn turkeys by tracing around my fingers and thumb. It’s easy. It’s fun. And you can decorate your turkey with a theme of your choice. Maybe you want to give your turkey a Darth Vader helmet or color your turkey’s feathers with your alma mater’s color scheme. Go for it!

I think that hand-traced turkeys are ingenious. Not only are they creative and doable; they also capture the spirit of Thanksgiving perfectly. Aptly named, Thanksgiving is all about being grateful for the blessings that we receive in our lives – whether they seem plentiful or few and far between. This simple craft, though, reminds us that gratitude isn’t just something that we feel; it’s something that we do. Gratitude is hands-on. It inspires action.

When we truly appreciate any of the treasures that we enjoy in our lives, we often want to share those things with others. Whether we are thankful for a loving family, or a well-paying job, or the air that we breathe each day, it is natural that we hope that others can experience such joy in their own lives. So, as relational, Christian, human beings we know that we are called to respond to our gratitude by getting to work to spread those blessings.

One of the Bible passages I like to flip to during Thanksgiving is Genesis 12. God is making unfathomable promises to Abram, and says, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.” The end game here is not that Abram and all of God’s “favorite”, chosen people will be blessed. Instead, it is that everyone will be blessed.

How can we carry that idea with us this Thanksgiving wherever we go? Perhaps we can gather food in grocery bags to donate to make sure others have something to eat, too. Or we can spend some of our holiday hours volunteering at a food pantry or soup kitchen. Whatever we do, let’s remember to give thanks not only with our words, but also with our hands.

-Josh Kestner, pastor in residency

2 Comments on “Hands-on holiday”

  • Gary Maiden

    December 1, 2017 at 5:39 pm

    You had me at cranberry sauce shaped like a can. I have enjoyed that holiday delicacy during Thanksgiving for literally as long as I can remember. (The rest of your column was great,too.)

  • Patricia Gerwig

    November 23, 2017 at 1:25 pm

    SIL, you make me proud when you remember that love is not only a noun but a very powerful verb. Go out and do God’s work. Warm fuzzies are not needed but action is.
    However, I’m saddened that you are eating canned cranberry sauce today. FIL just cranked up the blender for another seasonal batch. Eat your heart out. MIL

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Isaiah 53:4-12

4Surely our griefs He Himself bore,

And our sorrows He carried;

Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,

Smitten of God, and afflicted.

5But He was pierced through for our transgressions,

He was crushed for our iniquities;

The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,

And by His scourging we are healed.

6All of us like sheep have gone astray,

Each of us has turned to his own way;

But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all

To fall on Him.

7He was oppressed and He was afflicted,

Yet He did not open His mouth;

Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,

And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,

So He did not open His mouth.

8By oppression and judgment He was taken away;

And as for His generation, who considered

That He was cut off out of the land of the living

For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?

9His grave was assigned with wicked men,

Yet He was with a rich man in His death,

Because He had done no violence,

Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.

10But the LORD was pleased

To crush Him, putting Him to grief;

If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,

He will see His offspring,

He will prolong His days,

And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.

11As a result of the anguish of His soul,

He will see it and be satisfied;

By His knowledge the Righteous One,

My Servant, will justify the many,

As He will bear their iniquities.

12Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,

And He will divide the booty with the strong;

Because He poured out Himself to death,

And was numbered with the transgressors;

Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,

And interceded for the transgressors.

Psalm 91:9-16

9For you have made the LORD, my refuge,

Even the Most High, your dwelling place.

10No evil will befall you,

Nor will any plague come near your tent.

11For He will give His angels charge concerning you,

To guard you in all your ways.

12They will bear you up in their hands,

That you do not strike your foot against a stone.

13You will tread upon the lion and cobra,

The young lion and the serpent you will trample down.

14“Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him;

I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name.

15“He will call upon Me, and I will answer him;

I will be with him in trouble;

I will rescue him and honor him.

16“With a long life I will satisfy him

And let him see My salvation.”

Hebrews 5:1-10

The Perfect High Priest

1For every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God, in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins;2he can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided, since he himself also is beset with weakness;3and because of it he is obligated to offer sacrifices for sins, as for the people, so also for himself.4And no one takes the honor to himself, but receives it when he is called by God, even as Aaron was.

5So also Christ did not glorify Himself so as to become a high priest, but He who said to Him,



6just as He says also in another passage,



7In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety.8Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.9And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation,10being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

Mark 10:35-45

35James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, *came up to Jesus, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You.”36And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?”37They said to Him, “Grant that we may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory.”38But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”39They said to Him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized.40“But to sit on My right or on My left, this is not Mine to give; but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”

41Hearing this, the ten began to feel indignant with James and John.42Calling them to Himself, Jesus *said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them.43“But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant;44and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all.45“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Bartimaeus Receives His Sight