November 20, 2017
I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers.
The readings for Christ the King Sunday, or the final Sunday of the church year, are as follows:
This Thursday, many of us will celebrate Thanksgiving with family and, or friends. Though it's not a religious holiday, the Revised Common Lectionary has a set of readings for the day, which are listed below.
Just about every church around celebrates Thanksgiving with some form of service, either as a single congregation or in community with others.
Giving thanks has faith as its base.
The introductory scripture verse at the top of today's reflection is taken from our second reading for Sunday, in which the apostle Paul expresses his gratitude for the people of God in the church at Ephesus. Paul often opened his letters with words of thanksgiving.
One of the names we call Holy Communion is the Eucharist. That word comes from the Greek eucharisto, which means "thank you." Jesus gave thanks to God the Father at the Last Supper and we, too, give thanks every time we receive the body and blood of Jesus in the bread that is broken and wine that is poured at communion.
The hymn "Now Thank We All Our God," has become a standard at Thanksgiving services. This hymn was written back in the 1600's by a Lutheran pastor in Eilenberg, Germany, by the name of Martin Rinkart. He was pastor throughout the devastation of the Thirty Years War. Eilenberg was a walled city and it became a refuge for many fugitives, which caused overcrowding. As a result, there was disease and famine as well as the regular attacks by armies. At the war's peak Rinkart conducted up to 50 funerals per day, more than 4000 in the year 1637 alone. He even buried his own wife.
In the middle of all this strife, Rinkart wrote these words:
Now thank we all our God,
with hearts and hands and voices;
who wondrous things hath done
in whom this world rejoices.
In light of the dozens of recent natural disasters and the tragic violence this country has experienced lately, there are hundreds of thousands of stories we could mention of people in the middle of huge suffering, being grateful and thankful toward God, even when human reason can't make sense of it.
To borrow a quote from Rabbi Harold Kushner, our faith is, "first and foremost a way of seeing. It can't change the facts about the world we live in, but it can change the way we see those facts, and that in itself can often make a difference." [Who Needs God, p.19 & 280-1]
Giving thanks has the capacity to free us from fear, release us from anxiety, and embolden us to do more and dare more than we'd ever imagined.
As we gather at our tables for our Thanksgiving meal this Thursday, may we be truly thankful. And may we consider that giving thanks, our attitude of gratitude, just may be the most powerful emotion we have to counter all our adversity.
Today, Monday, we gather at the Lutheran Center (more commonly known as the synod office) with those rostered ministers who are new to the Northeastern Ohio Synod in the past year, to get to know them better and help them become better acquainted with our synod and what it offers.
Tuesday, November 21, I will be at Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland at noon, to be a part of the annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Service hosted by the Diocese of Ohio of the Episcopal Church.
This week and always, I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you. [Ephesians 1:17-18]
+Bishop Abraham Allende