My Thanksgiving Hero
“We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”- I Thessalonians 1:2-3
One of our nation’s most longstanding and recognizable traditions on Thanksgiving has nothing to do with turkey, pumpkin pie, or football. Not too long after Thanksgiving was made a holiday by President Abraham Lincoln (1863), a special celebration was added to remember this day we give thanks. In 1924 in New York City, the inaugural Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade took place. This Thanksgiving will mark the 90th anniversary/installment of a parade that has wowed thousands watching on the streets of Manhattan and millions of television viewers who have joined in on the festivities from across our nation. What makes this parade unique, and as special as our state’s very own Rose Bowl Parade, is the Macy’s trademark of using high flying floats.
From superheroes to cartoon characters to favorite toys, the depiction of these childhood figures and treasures will most definitely touch the heart, stir the imagination, and bring a smile to young and old alike. The idea of one’s childhood hero (for me it is Spiderman) being made larger than life and floating high above the New York City streets, is but a picture of how the celebration of Thanksgiving came a week early for me because of two special people.
Last weekend I was able to celebrate Joanie’s birthday by taking her away to Pasadena. We walked over ten miles in two days being captivated by the amazing architectural designs of homes and churches throughout the town. We relaxed by going to the movies and watching a new baking show on television. And we enjoyed a couple of delicious meals at restaurants in the area, with Joanie being able to choose her favorite type of food (Indian) for lunch on Saturday. All the sights, tastes, and activities taken in this past weekend was simply an expression of how thankful I am for my precious bride. Being married to Joanie these past twenty years is like waking up to the miracle of God’s grace and unwrapping the best gift each day. I am thankful beyond words and beyond measure at how much she loves God’s Word, of how much she cares for people, and of how much she gives and sacrifices for myself and the kids. When it comes to treasures to be thankful for, Spiderman has nothing on my Superwoman!
The highlight of the birthday getaway came at the end of the weekend as we were able to attend a Sunday service at Faithful Central Bible Church in Inglewood. It was such a joy and honor to worship with this precious church family and to be in the presence of a leader who has greatly shaped our faith and ministry call. For Joanie and myself, Bishop Ken Ulmer is a hero of the faith, is a spiritual father from afar, and a pastor/shepherd whom we have learned to emulate in several ways. As Paul said to the church in Corinth in I Corinthians 11:1, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” From being in seminary classes, to being in gatherings where Bishop Ulmer delivered the message, to viewing past sermons via the internet on a weekly basis, we have been deeply inspired and impacted by the Bishop’s knowledge of the Word, his humility/transparency, and his shepherd’s heart to lead the flock. We are thankful beyond measure and beyond words for a leader who puts God’s Word first, who allows the ups and downs of his life to be a living epistle, who loves deeply, and who yearns for the things of the Spirit.
On this Thanksgiving celebration my eyes won’t be fixed on the Macy’s Day Parade and my mind won’t be consumed by the many floats in the Manhattan skyline, rather as I gratefully consider God’s many gifts I will be adding “YOU” to my Thanksgiving list (with my bride Joanie and my hero Bishop Ulmer). I am thankful beyond measure and beyond words for being able to do “life” and “faith” with our precious church family. Thank you for your prayers, your support, your loving care to our family, and for entrusting your journey on God’s path to this under-shepherd of the Good Shepherd. May your heart and home this Thanksgiving season be marked by such amazing celebration and abundant provision, that nothing else compares to the goodness and faithfulness of God found in the Hero of Heroes, Jesus Christ our Savior! “Thanks be to God who always leads us in Christ’s triumphal procession.”- II Corinthians 2:14a