Are you thankful in this year of uncertainty and division? Are you hopeful that the volatility of our culture and the curse of this global pandemic will come to an end. I promise you it will. And yet all or any of our worry, fear and doubt are quickly drowned out by the tsunami of love and provision we know in the body of Christ. In worship whether in person or virtual, the Lord’s presence is still filling us with encouragement, comfort and strength. Driven by this love and strength, Jesus, the author and perfect or of our faith, gives us the reason and purpose to serve others in His name as an outflow of our gratitude for all we have in Him.
It was this perspective that began the traditions that mark the first Thanksgiving and the celebrations that follow. In 1620, 102 travelers (most of which were looking for religious freedom) found themselves hoping to make it through the winter on the Mayflower so they could begin their settlement the following spring. Only half of them lived. Yet despite that devastating loss they learned from the local Wampanaug Indians how to farm the land and provide for their needs, the early colonialists learned to thrive. That fall in 1621, Governor William Bradford gathered the Mayflower survivors and the local native Americans and they gave thanks for the Lord sustaining them and giving them friends who helped them survive and thrive.
In 1863, in the midst of the civil war, Abraham Lincoln made a proclamation that called all Americans to cry out to God and “commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife to heal the wounds of the nation.” It is here that Lincoln initiates the fourth Thursday of November as a Day of Thanksgiving and prayer.
In the midst of cultural unrest, division and suffering, our calling to pray is age old: “if My people who are called by My name humble themselves, and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”2 Chronicles 7:14 ESV. This prayer is descriptive of what it means to be truly thankful. God, who can employ all consequences for our corporate sin, instead offers us healing, forgiveness and hope. In Christ we are now alive, and can care for those who need him. For that I am thankful. I am thankful for you, St. Luke’s. Together we can show the world how to survive and thrive even when circumstances are trying.
I am thankful, we are hopeful, and forever Jesus is Lord.
Joy and peace to you
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!