For the most part, I'd prefer the Church not celebrate secular holidays. I suppose it’s okay to mention them in passing, but I really don’t see what the Church is doing celebrating civil holidays as if they had much of anything to do with God or creation or salvation history or any of those things. I was even in a Church recently (a liturgical setting, believe it or not), that sang some strange hymn about concrete and steel to celebrate Labor Day.
Hallmark holidays are even worse. Father’s Day and Mother’s Day are just distractions. Give the mothers a flower and the dads some kind of cigar substitute like a pen or a book, but don’t build the whole gathering around it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fine to celebrate them with your family or community, but in churches, they can be, at least, distracting and, at most, idolatry.
Check out my July posts to read about my stance on Independence Day.
I'm still not sure about Thanksgiving. Even though its origins had religious overtones, it’s little more than secular in our culture today. And even though the pilgrims were probably pretty thankful for those natives they ran across, the sentiment didn’t last too long, did it?
That reminds me of a quote from one of my favorite TV shows, FOX’s King of the Hill.
Bobby Hill: You mean Indians don’t celebrate Thanksgiving?
John Redcorn: We did. Once.
On the one hand, if we're being honest, most of us like the holiday because it gives us a chance to eat ourselves silly and not feel bad about it.
On the other hand, Thanksgiving comes at a good time to practice thankfulness, which is a discipline most of us need to work on. But in the Church, giving thanks for the symbolic harvest we enjoy should always be done in light of God’s mercy and grace that over-abounds in our lives. Further, it should be a time that reminds us as Americans, and especially as American Christians, of the injustices that continue to pervade and persist in our culture and around the world.
May we skip out on the sap and sentimentality and fully consider how to respond to God's grace and provision in our own lives. And that is the point where true worship begins.