Thanksgiving Eve Vespers
vespers – a service of evening prayer in the Divine Office of the Western Christian Church.
There is something soft and cozy about church service in the evening. The weather in November is colder, and raining today, but the hvac keeps the pews warm. The focus is tighter because outside distractions are diminished and the indoor lights have taken on the responsibility of lighting the altar. The congregation fills out the seating because of extra family and their coats.
Why are we here on a Wednesday evening? Why are we thanking God for our blessings when we are pretty sure we can’t pay Him back? Well, we can but only in a way that is counter-intuitive to the world. After accepting His gifts to us He wants payback by accepting even more from Him (psalm 116:12-13(a) ). The Lord gives His blessings to everyone via food, clothes, rain, sunshine, etc and still He wants to give us His salvation and the fruits that come with it.
12 What shall I return to the Lord
for all his goodness to me?
13 I will lift up the cup of salvation(a)
and call on the name of the Lord.(b)
14 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people.
.And from that He asks us to depend on His name in times of want, satisfaction, and bounty, and from there to follow His commands so others can see what He has given Christians. (psalm 116:13(b)-14)
The world hears this and gets suspicious. Who’s zoomin’ who? It sounds too easy. It has to be easy or no human could ever enter Heaven to be with Jesus otherwise it would only be populated with puppies, kittens, parakeets, bees and flowers. In the world of the profane, the tendency is for a favor, deed or gift to be returned with a favor, deed or gift of equal or larger size. This faulty belief system can lead to ruined Christmases with families, strained work relationships and even fist-shaking between neighbors. Keep a sharp eye open and see how those around you behave this Advent season. Watch, especially, how the Christians in your life (if any) react to gifts, cookies and other stressful situations.
After the benediction, after the final hymn “Lord, To You Immortal Praise”, after that silent moment I call ‘tempus fidget’, and finally during the postlude (thanks, Liga!) you’d think we’d all rush out to go home but halten Sie! The Wednesday night before Thanksgiving is the pie social at Holy Cross! Because there are no specific bible verses covering pies, our brothers and sisters at the Wisconsin Synod might accuse the LCMS of playing fast and loose with Bible interpretation.
No, the real reason is the social part. The Lord is big on His people ‘breaking pie crust’ together. Mealtime is when families, genetic or Christian, share time and talk about problems, victories and the day’s humdrum together. I wish Holy Cross could find a way to offer feasts more often but we’ve grown too large for that. That’s just a first-world problem, isn’t it?
OK, back to it. Pull the comforter over yourself as you listen to the miracle of the hens while the rest of the family plays board games, scavenges the bird, cheers the local sports team, and your nephew & niece poke your forehead.
P.S. Happy birthday, Airman.