By Samuel Littauer
Thanksgiving is upon us! Turkeys will soon tumble into tummies and our homes will quickly become occupied by hugs and hellos. For some, the holiday season can serve as a sort of long-awaited respite, to re-connect with people who bring us joy and comfort. But for others, they may find that the holidays are quickly animated by tension, grief, or disconnect. The holiday season can oftentimes invoke loneliness or sorrow as we strive for joy but are dissonantly reminded of loss. These feelings of loneliness or sadness are especially evident in light of the persistent pandemic, as countless families will find their tables with empty seats—seats that were once filled with laughter, warmth, and the occasional unsolicited political perspective. While some are grieving the loss of life, others may be grieving the loss of employment, friendships, pets, housing, or food. Because grief can cast such shadows over the holidays, celebration and feasting almost seem insensitive in light of such enormous global plight. So, in such a turbulent time, it is completely natural to wonder, how do I give thanks, this Thanksgiving? How do we push past pilgrims, pumpkins, pies, and pumpkin pies, to find true Thanksgiving? When the holidays provide an opportunity for so much tension and dissonance, our celebrations can become susceptible to a false spirit of performance. The spirit of Thanksgiving might tempt us to wear an “attitude of gratitude” as if it were a costume on Halloween. But in the Christian faith, thankfulness and gratitude cannot serve as a moral accessory or costume to accompany a polished and manicured persona. Thanksgiving must become an ever-present reality that moves in, around, and through us as a sort of persistent spiritual wind on a cosmic scale. The holiday of Thanksgiving should provide as a reminder of God’s vast Lordship over all of creation, rather than a consumeristic celebration of all we have accumulated. A common pitfall when celebrating Thanksgiving is the temptation to express gratitude for all we have in comparison to someone else’s misfortune. In many ways, our most sincere expressions of thanks can begin to resemble the prayer of the Pharisee in Luke 18:11. “God, I thank you that I am not like other men!”, he cries as he draws comparison to the man praying sorrowfully in the corner. The Pharisee then proceeds to list his resume of religious acumen and boast his pious spiritual disciplines. In a similar manner, we (myself especially) attempt to find and express thankfulness by comparing our status unfairly to those who may have less. We share our thankfulness for our homes, jobs, activities, food, ability, and stability as if we are the ones who procured these physical blessings for ourselves. While it is commendable to be grateful and aware of all you have been given, we ought to be cognizant of the ways we can sinfully assume ownership rather than stewardship. Our existence is not of ourselves! To paraphrase Abraham Kuyper, “every square inch” of creation belongs to Christ and he declares it, “Mine!” Amidst the dissonance of the holiday season, I pray that we would all find an even deeper thanksgiving for our very existence. When tempted to give thanks for merely the material world, I propose we reframe our gratitude to include the incalculable and invisible. Beyond pumpkins and pilgrims, it is a gift to exist in a cosmically equal existence to all of our neighbors and as a part of God’s creation.
May our spirits be animated by an even deeper and glorious thankfulness this Thanksgiving—not born out of the illusion of ownership, but rather out of the reality of God’s cosmic love.
Happy Thanksgiving, fellow stewards!
Pictures from the Week
Exploring Richmond on our way to the Micah 6:8 Conference! Thanks to Jack Neary for being our local tour guide.
Slurpee time! Joined my wonderful host family on a bike ride for a Sunday snack. Overwhelmed with gratitude for their hospitality and generosity.
Capital Fellows date night in DC! David was an amazing guide and we had an unforgettable “Hot Date in the District.”
Silly selfies at the movie theater! So much fun learning about Seth’s love of Wes Anderson films and Emily’s love of Timothee Chalamet!
Walking alongside the James River and contemplating the dark, unknown, history of the Richmond power grid.
Become A Capital Fellow in 2022-23
We are now receiving applications for Season 16 of the Capital Fellows program!
EARLY APPLICATION DEADLINE: NOVEMBER 30th!
Most fellows work in the marketplace - for companies, nonprofits, government offices. Three Capital Fellows work at our church each year as well. For these roles, we are looking for a worship fellow, a children's ministry fellow, and a missions fellow. These are special Capital Fellows opportunities because you are not only paid a salary, but also your Capital Fellows program fees are covered as well!
The Season 16 program year runs from late August 2022 through mid-May 2023. If you are a college senior or recent graduate - or know someone that is - we would love to hear from you!
Pray for the Capital Fellows
Thank you for praying for the Capital Fellows each week!
Many Fellows have returned home for the Thanksgiving holiday and are now en en route back to the DC area. Please be praying for them as they travel. One of our fellows is home for the rest of the semester recovering from surgery. Thankfully she will be back with us in January for the Winter Retreat. Please be in prayer for her full recovery.
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Benefits of The Fellows Initiative
You probably already know that Capital Fellows is one of 32 fellows programs in The Fellows Initiative network. Capital Fellows benefit from our affiliation with The Fellows Initiative in many ways. One of those ways is that all Capital Fellows alumni receive a 33% tuition discount at Reformed Theological Seminary for 5 years. For more information, please contact us.
If you know a church in the US or Canada that would benefit from joining The Fellows Initiative by launching a new fellows program. Please contact TFI by visiting their website.
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