What’s Up With Friendsgiving?

My husband mentioned “friendsgiving”  the other day.  I guess I had seen the word a few times, but really didn’t take note of it — some new advertising ploy, I figured.  Evidently, though, it’s becoming a trend.

What is it?  Well, from what I am able to glean from the internet, it’s a sort of potluck feast you arrange with your friends — sometimes in lieu of Thanksgiving with family, sometimes on the Wednesday before or Friday after Thanksgiving.  On the surface, it doesn’t seem like a bad thing, I mean, why not celebrate our friendships?  Why not get together with the folks we value most?  Still, I find it a bit disturbing.

At a friendsgiving feast, I am encouraged to invite the people I care about most.  I can’t choose my family, but I can choose my friends.  It’s a modern tradition, and no, it didn’t originate on the sitcom, Friends (although there were some Thanksgiving episodes) — it was indeed first used in an advertising campaign for Bailey’s Irish Cream.

The first Thanksgiving, on the other hand, was an actual historic event.  You know the story.  After the first year in America only 53 pilgrims from the Mayflower had survived.  Disease and starvation had claimed the rest (originally 102).  However, at the end of that year, with the help of the local Indians, they found themselves with an ample food supply to face the coming winter.  Sometime between September and November of 1621, a feast to celebrate God’s provision was held.  It included recreational events, and the Wampanoag Indians, along with their leader Massasoit were invited.  It has been celebrated on and off since America was formed and in 1863, during the Civil War it became an official federal holiday.

In summary, Friendsgiving is all about ME.  Having the food I like with the people I choose.  Thanksgiving is about community and GOD.  Thanking the one who created us for sustaining us every day.  It seems that our holidays (which by the way  started as holy days) are becoming more and more secularized.  Thanksgiving is about celebrating our friends and rushing out to get those Black Friday bargains;  Christmas (again, originally Christ’s Mass) has turned into what my husband calls the “gift-giving holiday.”  We’ve replaced God with some new idols — friends and shopping.  We’ve turned days meant to be sanctified times of rest and worship into days characterized by overeating, overspending and stress.  It’s not what God intended.

Anyway, tomorrow, I hope you celebrate your friends and your family and your country, not as things you have earned and deserve, but as blessings from  God that you don’t deserve (this is called grace) — because that’s what they are.  Don’t stress, don’t shop — just be still and know that He loves you and so do I!


Your Calling

“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”  Ephesians 4:1

I hear quite a few people speak about their church as if they are merely consumers, making a choice about what is best for them.  They belong to a church for reasons like these:

  • I love the Pastor
  • It has a great youth program for my kids
  • The music is fantastic
  • My friends go there

I’ve also heard people reject a church because:

  • I don’t feel uplifted
  • I’m not being fed spiritually
  • I don’t like someone who is a member
  • I prefer a different kind of music

Now I am not saying there is anything wrong with loving your Pastor, the music, the programs or the people in your church.  There is something wrong with making a choice that’s all about you.  I personally believe that the lay people of the congregation are called to be there every bit as much as the Pastor.  We’re part of the body of Christ.  We all have gifts and talents to build up the body.  We’re all needed.  We are to be worthy of that calling.

That means our choice of a congregation should be based, in great part, on where God is calling us to serve.  It means once we have accepted our call, we need to be humble and bear with others even when we don’t agree with them.  It means we don’t change congregations just because we liked the old Pastor better;  we don’t get mad and leave in a snit.  We settle in, we become family and we work together.

“Look careful then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best of the time, because the days are evil.  Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”  Ephesians 4:15-17

You’ve been called.  Are you blooming where you are planted?  Are you walking in a worthy manner?  Are you God’s servant in the place He has placed you?  Or are you just a religious consumer?