Is Nothing Sacred?

One of the things I've come to appreciate about my extended family is that it didn't matter to them on what day a holiday was celebrated. It was somewhat of a pragmatic decision; being one among fourteen grandchildren, there were lots of celebrations to coordinate. And my Nana thought it best to defer to the individual get-togethers of her five children and their in-laws, and simply celebrate as a family later. Often times, a week to two weeks later.

Now I know that this really matters to some people, but the one thing that I learned from all this (apart from the fact that one can never have too many turkey dinners) was that holidays are just human institutions.

I don't think most people would agree with that. For instance, a few stores will open their doors on Thanksgiving evening this year. Now I used to hear enough complaints about Black Friday years ago, but ever since this trend started, the backlash has been incessant. As if there are those who feel personally offended that people would shop when we're supposed to be thanking God (football is oddly absent from this outrage).

Folks like this often conclude their rants with a melodramatic, "is nothing sacred?" Which is an interesting phrase to use for a holiday nowhere prescribed in Scripture. It also harbors a none too subtle persecution complex--an inane paranoia that the "secular" is trying to make their trite, thanksgiving alms pagan.

photo credit: (aka Brent) via photopin cc
Let's face it. There's nothing sacred about what we do on Thanksgiving. Not unlike Christmas, the focus of the holiday has shifted to less spiritual things--like food and family. And calls of sharing what you're thankful for feel contrived and guilt-ridden.

Maybe if we return to the roots of this holiday, we'll find something sacred. Cause that always works.

As we all know, the Thanksgiving story is a stage set with compassionate Native Americans and desperate Pilgrims. Thanks are given to God for his provision in the form of these indigenous angels. Of course, those kind souls probably see this olive branch incident a little differently now, this side of the Trail of Tears.

But like all good non-native Americans, we don't want to talk about that. Thanksgiving is a celebration of divine providence, not the manufacturing of the American dream--one of opportunism and entitlement. So we sanctify a moment in history, and cement it into our geopolitical foundations with a halfhearted "in God we trust." A moment that serves only to illustrate the corruptible finitude of man with no shadow of heavenly things whatsoever. Because, as is the case with most people, we only like history when we write it ourselves.

So unlike this platitudinous, American holiday, let'd do what Scripture actually calls us to do: give thanks in everything. That includes hardship. If you're skeptical like me, read some of David's psalms. Don't rewrite the circumstances of your life; embrace that God has ordained everything you're experiencing, and give thanks.

The human condition is far from sacred no matter what a holiday dictates. Which again raises the question, is nothing sacred? The answer? Only the things that God has prescribed, the things that point to heaven.