“You crown the year with your bounty;
your wagon tracks overflow with richness.
The pastures of the wilderness overflow,
the hills gird themselves with joy,
the meadows clothe themselves with flocks,
the valleys deck themselves with grain,
they shout and sing together for joy.”
-Psalm 65: 11-13
The “crown” is the final piece of the outfit. After the formal wear, the shoes, the jewelry, the hair, last the crown is laid on the head. It “completes” the look. It shows the fullness of the person being presented. Whether a monarch or a pageant winner, the crown is the final touch.
365.25 days make up each year. That’s one earth revolution around the sun. Over the course of those days there are thunderstorms, and days of sunny heat. There is fog and drizzle and clouds. Snow showers come and ice tinkles on the roof. Some days we worry about a flood or if the grass will be scorched. All of these elements make up the “attire” of the year.
But the “crown” of the year, the psalmist tells us, is the bounty of the harvest. I love these images. A wagon full of produce spilling out into the ruts the heavy wheels make in the dirt. Pastures full of wheat or corn to be harvested. Meadows and valleys dressed in color. And in this image all of them are singing. The earth sings for joy.
If we take the psalmist seriously, Thanksgiving is the “crown of the year.” It is the day set aside to marvel at the abundance that comes from the earth, an abundance we can enable or hinder but an abundance that we do not ultimately control. We are dependent on the earth. We set Thursday aside this week to marvel at that reality. There is power beyond us we do not control, we only receive.
Wherever you gather and with whomever you gather, I hope you might take a moment this week to celebrate Thanksgiving as the “crown” of the year. Whether it is overhearing the laughter from the yard while you scrub dishes. Or as you wipe sweat from your brow as you pull each casserole dish from the oven. As you set out the china or count the chairs or watch from the windows for the guests to arrive. Even if this Thanksgiving comes with grief and sorrow, might we remember. This is the crowning of the year. This is the reminder, physical and spiritual, that God reigns. And if God reigns, then we can trust that all will, ultimately, be well.
May each of you, our dear church, have the happiest of Thanksgivings!
Now thank we all our God
with heart and hands and voices,
who wondrous things has done,
in whom his world rejoices;
who from our mothers' arms
has blessed us on our way
with countless gifts of love,
and still is ours today.
2 O may this bounteous God
through all our life be near us,
with ever joyful hearts
and blessed peace to cheer us,
to keep us in his grace,
and guide us when perplexed,
and free us from all ills
of this world in the next.
-The Rev. Andrew C. Whaley, Head of Staff