The turkey

A few years ago – I don’t remember how many precisely – we decided to celebrate Thanksgiving here in South Africa.


We got some cranberry sauce and a porculent looking frozen Canadian turkey. On the way back home on the N1 highway somewhere around the Karl Bremer Hospital, we ran out of petrol and didn’t have a working cell phone. All told, we got home late, everyone was in a tizzy and the turkey was finally roasted for Christmas.


Needless to say we didn’t do Thanksgiving that Thursday many years ago.


So, why an American feast day? We’re in Africa.


So, I say why not? I fancy making food green for St Paddy’s Day and having an Irish tipple.


We watch an otherwise obscure recording of an English comedy skit on New Year’s eve (Dinner for One) and enjoy a good lamb curry when the feeling strikes.


One of my favourite YouTube clips is a collection of rugby tries by Lwazi Mvovo set to ‘Nkalakatha’.


Cultural things are transferrable.


I enjoy many things about American culture, although I also would have enjoyed the 1950s more.


Giving thanks is a very Biblical thing to do, especially in coming out the other side of a crazy year, as the Pilgrims discovered.


102 Mayflower Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts on 11 December 1620, some 400 years ago now. The winter until the autumn of the following year was very rough on them.


Their number was cut by half because of disease and hunger.


At the first Thanksgiving attended by 91 Wampanoag guests (who taught the Pilgrims how to survive in the New World) were barely more than 50 Pilgrims: 22 men, a mere 4 surviving married women and 27 children and teens.


Like 1620 for the Pilgrims, we all seem to have had a rough year.


We’re still here. Some are barely doing it, but we’re holding on. It’s something for which we can give thanks:

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

The armour of light

Keeping up with the election season in the States can make the most normal person feel tired and worn out.


Its a constant drama and the spectre of a contested result must be maddening to those people who have gone to all the trouble of voting without being sure that things will turn out legitimately. As a South African I have no skin in the game and can tune it out, but then I turn on the local news and I find myself in the middle of equally familiar controversies and arguments, which go round and round in circles.


Okay, so I tune out the local news too. I still feel tired and worn out. Where’s that coming from? Spiritual warfare, that’s where.


The feud is ever present. The battle is pitched. The war rages constantly.


Paul is writing to the Believer in Romans 13 and providing a perspective. In the light of this thing, we are to live like this.


In the light of what? Our future glory, our hope. There is a tension between the flesh and the spirit within us and there are three tenses that describe where we came from, what God did for us, what He’s doing in us now, and what He will do in us in the future.


We are saved from sin’s penalty.


We are being saved from sin’s power, learning to walk by the Spirit.


And we will finally be saved from sin’s presence. This is the hope that we look forward to, an actual day. We should be living for this future day of glory, living in light of this fact.


Sin’s power still engages in combat with us. Paul writes that we must awaken from our sleep. When we sleep, we are dull of hearing, in a dream world, vulnerable to danger. For a member of the military, falling asleep while on watch is considered a dereliction of duty as defined by Article 92 of the UCMJ.


It is a sense of duty and mission that prompts us to stay awake, or wake up from our sleep. Elsewhere in Ephesians, Paul writes that the Believer is to be strong in the Lord and to put on his armour and take a stand against the devil.


Here in Romans 13, Paul writes that we can look forward to a day when sin is beaten and the battle won, and to put aside the deeds of darkness now, almost like a foul coat that we can shrug off our shoulders and put on the armour of light, put on Christ Jesus. In a visual sense, I picture Tony Stark putting on the Iron Man suit.

Wandering around in a state of sleep is like walking into the enemy’s skirmish line. Who hasn’t found themselves there from time to time? I’ve been snapped awake, aware of the combat in which I’m engaged, face-palming for having walked into obvious ambushes.


The battle is pitched. I’m in it.