It really hit home when I was recently reading an article by David R. Shannon, President of Freed-Hardeman University, entitled, “It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times.” Using the famous quotation from Charles Dickens from his historical novel, A Tale of Two Cities, Shannon was describing 2020, the year of the pandemic. As I read it, I thought, “This sounds a lot like our year at Central.”
This coming Thursday is Thanksgiving Day. Some of you may be wondering what it is for which we should be thankful in a year which has seen such great loss. That may be a fair question, so let me take a few moments and review some of the losses and then give a few reasons why we should be most thankful here at the end of 2020.
In an article dated September 27, 2020, I recently reviewed some of “the worst of times” we have experiences this year, as follows:
“We have diligently obeyed the governmental restrictions regarding COVID-19. Beginning with Friends Day 2020, each of our major gatherings has been canceled or postponed since March, including both of our previously-scheduled Gospel Meetings this year. The annual Clothing Giveaway was [canceled],…the annual Picnic in the Park was canceled, as was our annual Ladies’ Day… Our annual Vacation Bible School, as well as youth trips to Horizons and Christian camps were canceled. Brotherhood lectureships…were converted to online programs. Our annual Fourth of July fireworks community outreach, and all fellowship meals were canceled. Morning and evening ladies classes as well as the Young Professionals class were indefinitely suspended…Social gatherings, work sessions and other events at the church building have been drastically curtailed…How much loss to congregational morale, spiritual engagement, encouragement and faithfulness to the Lord remains an open question…[T]his has been especially difficult on our seniors…[A]ll of us have been injured to some extent by increased isolation and loss of social interaction and fellowship.”
In view of such losses, some may be wondering why we should even have a Thanksgiving this year. If so, that would be a tragic shame, because we probably have more reason to be thankful now than ever. Let me share a few personal reasons why, and I’m sure if you pause to think about it, you could add many more to the following list:
1. I am thankful for our assemblies. I will never again take for granted the amazing privilege of freely meeting together in person, as the Scriptures command, (Heb. 10:25). While it is a great blessing to those who cannot come, worshiping online is just not the same.
2. I am thankful for our seniors. This has not been easy for them. They have struggled with the technology, the ability to regularly tune in to the services. Many are feeling isolated. I miss seeing them out, shaking their hands, seeing their warm smiles and hearing their kind, encouraging words of greeting. I will never take for granted the blessing of regularly seeing our beloved seniors.
3. I am thankful for the freedoms we enjoy in this country. Some of these have been challenged, eroded, questioned, and minimized. I have heard State governors talk like church services were purely optional. I am thankful that this has awakened some sleeping Christians, and reminded us just how quickly such precious freedoms could be swept away. I will never take them for granted.
4. I am thankful for my family. I will miss seeing all of them gathered together this Thanksgiving. God meant for families to be together, to spend quality time together, and I will never take for granted the joy and privilege of doing just that.
It is said that some blessings have to be lost before they can be fully appreciated. Let us hope and pray that the loss of these blessings is temporary – and when they are restored, let us be thankful for them as never before!
-by Robert C. Veil, Jr.