Give Thanks - A song written by Henry Smith and published in 1978 is one of my favorite songs at this time of year. The lyric is:
Give Thanks with a grateful heart,
Give thanks to the Holy One;
Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ, His Son.
And now let the weak say, “I am strong,”
Let the poor say, “I am rich,”
Because of what the Lord has done for us.
Religions and cultures across the world celebrate days of thanksgiving. Usually, they are connected to the fall harvest of crops. Everyone is thankful they have food and will survive the bleak and desolate winter season. This was part of the motivation for the Pilgrims and Puritans in their thanksgivings in the 1620’s. They were thankful because they had plenty. Many days of thanksgiving were observed in the U.S. on various days and for various reasons. Our modern Thanksgiving was started by Abraham Lincoln in 1863 with a proclamation that all states observe a single day of National Thanksgiving. The proclamation outlines that Thanksgiving was “explicitly in celebration of the bounties that had continued to fall on the Union and for the military successes in the war, and also explicitly in "humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience." Because of the ongoing Civil War, a nationwide Thanksgiving celebration was not realized until Reconstruction was completed in the 1870s.” (Wikipedia). Franklin Roosevelt changed the date to help the economy by extending the holiday buying season.
The song lyric stands in contrast to the typical motivations for thanksgiving that history records. There is no mention of having food, or military conquest, or buying gifts. There is one reason to give thanks –
“Give thanks because he’s given Jesus Christ, His Son.”
We are to give thanks not because of what we have accomplished, not because of what we have received, but because of what God has given to all of humanity. While Jesus Christ is the fullest expression of God’s love for us, Jesus is not the first expression of God’s love. From the Old Testament we can read, 1 Chronicles 16:34 (NIV) “34 Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.” This verse is repeated throughout the Psalms and the Prophets and by Paul in the New Testament. Jesus Christ is the manifestation – incarnation of God’s love for us.
As disciples of Jesus, we can give thanks, not for our profits, our power, our prestige, our privilege, but because God loves us and God’s love endures for all of time and through all of our sins and failures. We can repent and return to God because of God’s enduring love. We can be thankful for God each and every day.
Our strength nor our wealth are indicative of our quality or quantity of thanksgiving. We can be grateful to God in all situations and at all times for God’s enduring love for us. That is the foundation of our thanksgiving.
Enjoy family and friends in the coming days of Thanksgiving Celebration. Be thankful for them and for time spent together. Give thanks to God for them and love and forgive and show mercy to one another as God has loved, forgiven and been merciful to each one of us. Blessings, Pastor Tom
With the decreasing infection rates of Covid 19 in Lee County the Lee Health System has stopped giving updates. Lee County is a YELLOW area, meaning moderate infection rates – (approximately 3.3%). Covid is not gone, but as a broad public health threat it is manageable. 64.1% of the population over 12 years old is fully vaccinated. 85.6% over 65 is vaccinated. Good Shepherd Church is committed to the safety and health of all our members and attenders. Safe for our bodies, minds and spirits as we gather to love God and care for one another. We will continue to follow these guidelines:
Good Shepherd UMC - Commitment to being Safe Space
Please Wear Masks.
Please Practice Social Distancing.
Please Vaccinate and Get Booster.
Medically Vulnerable and At-Risk persons participate in ministry.
We can care for them and ourselves.
All are welcome to come Love God and Serve Others.