Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever! (1 Chronicles 16:34)
Christmas is almost upon us, but let’s take a minute to remember Thanksgiving. As it turns out, this year at RTN we gave thanks for God’s presence with us. What better way to start off the Christmas Season? There was a time when we were separated from God and His glory was hidden from us, but now we are able to fully enter into the presence of God through the person of Christ. We celebrated our thankfulness for this at our Thanksgiving Service followed by a traditional Thanksgiving Meal. Church members (and the many guests present) enjoyed turkey, corn, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie, sweet potatoes, dinner rolls, and other delicious foods brought by various church members. One of the turkeys even had an Indian twist to it! Turkey tandoori, anyone?
In addition to food and fellowship, we were reminded during the service of God’s faithfulness to His people. The above verse expresses Israel’s thanksgiving and praise for the return of the ark–the symbol of the LORD’s presence among Israel. For months the Philistines had held the ark captive. After it was taken, one of the priests’ sons was named Ichabod (meaning “the glory has departed”), but God sent plagues among the Philistines to cause them to return it. For 20 years afterward, the ark sat in the house of Abinadab during the reign of Saul. But when David began to establish his reign in Israel, he wanted to bring the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem. During the first attempt to move the ark, a man named Uzzah died because they did not honor the LORD’s commands regarding how to transport the ark. The second time, they followed the LORD’s instructions, and the Levites were able to carry the ark all the way to Jerusalem. How thrilled David and the people were to have the symbol of God’s presence in their midst once more! They danced, offered sacrifices, and sang the above words to the LORD because His glory had returned among them.
Today, as followers of Jesus Christ, we no longer look to an object to symbolize God’s inhabitance with us. His presence is everywhere, and His Spirit is in us always. At RTN we are thankful for these promises and rejoice in what these truths mean for us. We do not have to travel to a place to procure God’s attention or seek His direction. We do not need priests to mediate for us. We boldly enter before the throne of God to seek forgiveness through Christ and offer up our praise to Him. He has allowed His glory to come within our reach, and it comes through Christ Jesus our Lord. Today’s times are Ichabod no more. God sent His Son into the world that we might live through Him. Instead, we have Immanuel (meaning “God with us”), and we give thanks.
“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” (Matthew 1:23)