Pause this Thanksgiving and spend time with God

November 23, 2021 / by / 0 Comment

Director of Spiritual Life Erik Nelsen said at Thanksgiving Chapel that we can get caught up in the chaos of the holidays but to take a moment and reflect on the Christmas story.

Lana Sweeten-Shults
GCU News Bureau

Silver and gold aside, when it comes down to it, the holidays are often full of white noise.

“We have loud chaos in the kitchen. Everything’s being cooked and people are trying to get a roll here and there. We have kids in the back yard playing football. … We have cheers from the living room. People are watching the football game,” said GCU Director of Spiritual Life Erik Nelsen, who set the typical holiday scene. He also looked back at the worrisome, atypical year of COVID-19 – “the year that shall not be named” – as he addressed a virtual audience for a brief Thanksgiving Chapel message on Monday.

Who wouldn’t love the festive decorations and catching up with family?

Yet, “The reality is that the holidays actually can be pretty tough. You may have difficult circumstances that make Thanksgiving or Christmas tough.”

So Nelsen asked the campus community to hit pause and dive into the Christmas story.

The Worship Team performs at Thanksgiving Chapel, which was virtual this week.

“Go to your favorite coffeeshop – if you’re on campus, go to GCBC and pray. Open up the Scripture and meditate on this,” Nelsen said, as he implored students to start, even now at Thanksgiving, to reflect during the holiday break about the hope in Jesus that starts with the Christmas story. “Treat yourself to a peppermint mocha and spend time with God. I’m going to try to do the same thing.”

He read passages from Luke 1 and Luke 2 about Jesus’ birth.

While new parents have all we need – doctors, nurses, sound machines to help babies sleep – think about Jesus and the Christmas story, he said, and how he was born in the most humble of circumstances. Mary and Joseph could not find lodging the night of Jesus’ birth, and he was born in a barn and placed in a manger, which was essentially a feeding trough for animals.

While we have modern conveniences, the Savior of the world did not.

Nelsen spoke about the shepherds who praised baby Jesus and the Wise Men who followed a star based on prophecy to find and worship Him, even as a baby.

“It’s pretty profound to remember that that’s what Christmas is about. We celebrate the Savior of the world as a baby.”

So, with all the splendor of the season – the decorations, the gifts, the football games, the family drama, the hustle and bustle – take a quiet moment to reflect on what the celebration really is about and who baby Jesus grew up to be, as shared in Philippians 2: “God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

The Worship Team performed “How Great Thou Art,” “Endless Alleluia,” “Remembrance” and “Freedom is Coming.”

He gave one final note of encouragement in his Thanksgiving address. During a time that can be “pretty tough” for a lot of people, “if you know someone who is in your life who is really struggling, reach out to them. Send a text. Call them.

“It might feel awkward: Be bigger than the awkward. It’s not awkward anytime you reach out to say, ‘Hey, I want to check in on you. I hope you’re doing OK. I’d love to meet up and talk. That’s never awkward.”

The reality is, he said, “You may be the only church that someone has in their life, and your encouragement can go a long way. You may never know what God can do with that.”

It’s part of that hope that Jesus gives us, no matter the season.


To watch Nelsen’s full Thanksgiving message and see music performed by the Worship Team, click here.


Next Chapel speaker (11 a.m. Monday): Chris Brown, North Coast Church, California

Next The Gathering (7 p.m. Nov. 30, Antelope Gymnasium): Worship Night


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