From the Pastor’s Desk November 2023 “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Many of you already know that Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Setting aside a full day to be grateful is a wonderful use of one’s time. Setting aside a full day to offer praise and thanksgiving to the One who grants us every good gift, even better. There are no presents, you don’t have to worry about sending cards to your friends and neighbors, and there’s no real pressure when it comes to decorations – just whatever seems appropriate to you. The real focus on this day is gathering with family and friends, and sharing in a robust meal whose sole purpose is to remind us of God’s providence.
Now, having mentioned God’s providence, let me say a word about God’s miraculous ability to provide, and in light of that divine generosity, offer a gentle reminder to think a little more broadly before articulating your gratitude this year. In other words, “Father, Son, Holy Ghost, who eats the fastest eats the most,” might work, but not fully demonstrate the subtlety present in a mature Christian mind. “Come Lord Jesus, be our guest, and let these gifts to us be blessed,” is a better choice. Though to be fair, the recitation of this grace can be a bit formulaic and fail to engage the deeper recesses of our spiritual imaginations. As the smell of turkey, stuffing, and freshly baked pumpkin pie waft about, we might seize the opportunity to state our gratitude for, “the food that has been set before us and the hands that have prepared it.” Now, we’re getting warmed up, so let’s seize the momentum.
I shared at the outset of this article that Thanksgiving was an essential part of the Christian experience, this is most certainly true! And I also mentioned that we are wise to set aside a day to sincerely invest in the activity, also true. But Thanksgiving is not the whole of it, it is a happy Thanksgiving that we are truly hoping for, and how do we achieve that lofty goal? Look to the table laden with food, look to the family and friends who make you smile, and consider the warmth of the space in which you have gathered. Then, look beyond those walls to the work you have been invested in, and the wonderful world in which it all takes shape. And there’s still more of course, attempt to contemplate the world beyond this one, in which our gracious God resides and reigns. And if that’s still not enough, consider the Communion of Saints, those who now rest in the great beyond who (while we enjoy our green bean casserole) have gathered for their heavenly banquet, enjoying a depth of communion that is beyond our wildest imaginings. And if that doesn’t bring some happiness, how about the knowledge that one of the best gifts God has given is a promise, that promise assures us that even the most glorious moments in this kingdom are merely a foretaste of the feast to come.
When you truly think about it, it’s enough to take your breath away. So, perhaps this year, share in your favorite table grace, which ever one it happens to be. And then, maybe we shouldn’t say anything at all, maybe we could just take a moment to be still, quiet, silent – and let the magnitude of God’s glory and goodness nourish our spirits and fill us to overflowing. That would make for a happy Thanksgiving indeed! Yours in Christ, Pastor Dan