And now we look back on all this and thank God, an artesian well of thanks!
(1st Thess. 2:13 The Message)
This is the season of Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving Day is Thursday November 28th, a day set aside as a national day to give thanks. There are several references to the establishment of this day as a national holiday in the USA. We have all heard the story of the 1st Thanksgiving Day growing out of the experience of the Plymouth Colony and the Pilgrim’s survival after a difficult year of settlement. With the help of the native Wampanoag tribe, the survivors celebrated a good harvest. Following the War for American Independence, George Washington issued a proclamation for the first national day of Thanksgiving. During the Civil War era President Lincoln called for a day of national Thanksgiving and Prayer in November of 1863 during the height of conflict. Then in 1939 President Roosevelt proclaimed it an official National Holiday.
For us Christians Thanksgiving Day has its roots many centuries ago in the life, teachings, love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ; the gratitude and thanks are expressed by the multitude fed by a few loaves and fish, in the story of the healing of the 10 lepers, one returns to express thanks, and are so many other stories and parables of thanksgiving. The Apostle Paul continues the expression of thanks and appreciation for the Gospel of Jesus Christ in many letters to the early church. He repeatedly writes of his thanks for their faith, charity, and generosity. In his letter to the Thessalonian Christians Paul describes his feelings as “an artesian well of thanks”. What a beautiful image of a deep clear spring of thanks.
So, today I add my voice to theirs with a heartfelt expression of thanksgiving. I am so grateful to all of you for your devotion to the Lord, your support and care of the church and your abundant generosity in caring for the community. I am thankful for the warm and beautiful home you have provided that sheltered Sally, Katie and me these many years. We are thankful for your many acts of kindness and care, your friendship and love.
Personally, I am so deeply thankful for the wonderful, amazing life events I have experienced among you these many years. Being invited to share the most profound, personal and Holy moments of your lives, such as births, baptisms, weddings, and, yes, even death has been a blessing and privilege. I hold these memories in my heart and mind, as gently and gratefully as I held so many of your children in baptism. Thank you. I shall be eternally grateful and thankful, a deep artesian well of thanksgiving.
With joy and hope!
Commissioned Lay Pastor's Message
“Be joyful always, pray at all times, be thankful in all circumstances. This is what God wants from you in your life in union with Christ Jesus.” I Thessalonians 5: 16-18
As we change our calendars over to the month of November, and change our clocks on Sunday, November 3rd, we realize that we are fast approaching Thanksgiving. Of course, this year Thanksgiving falls a little later than usual, much to the chagrin of retailers complaining about the loss of a few days for Christmas sales. It is at this time of year that we remember to be more thankful and grateful for all that we have. And, if we really think about it, we realize that we are truly blessed by God. We think about those who are less fortunate, and donate to food pantries, prepare Thanksgiving baskets and offer help wherever there might be a need. All of those things I just mentioned are wonderful and bring a warm glow to your heart. But are these emotions only felt in November? Do we extend these concerns throughout the year, day by day? Do we feel thankful, grateful and blessed year-round? It is at this point that we pause and contemplate the true meaning of Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is not just a holiday; it is a way of life. The apostle Paul writes these words in I Thessalonians which remind us to be thankful in all circumstances. Truly, this is what God wants from us. Can I tell you this is easy? Of course not. Yet we must strive to do our best to be joyful, to pray at all times, and to be thankful whatever comes our way.
“To be grateful for the good things that happen in our lives is easy, but to be grateful for all of our lives-the good as well as the bad, the moments of joy as well as the moments of sorrow, the successes as well as the failures, the rewards as well as the rejections-that requires hard spiritual work.
Still, we are only truly grateful people when we can say “thank you” to all that brought us to the present moment.
As long as we keep dividing our lives between events and people we would like to remember and those we would rather forget, we cannot claim the fullness of our beings as a gift of God to be grateful for.
Let’s not be afraid to look at everything that has brought us to where we are now and trust that we will soon see in it the guiding hand of a loving God.” Henri Nouwen
I believe that Henri Nouwen has summed up this concept perfectly. We may struggle with being grateful in all circumstances, but with prayer and devotion, our life can be joyful. We know that our God is a loving God, and we are constantly led by this never-ending love. If we focus on our countless blessings, like waking up every morning, every breath that we take, our friends and relationships, our loving family, we then understand that every moment should be a thanksgiving moment. Yes, there
will be troubles, but our God is with us every step of the way! God is just waiting for us to reach out in prayer in both times of joy and sorrow. Let us strive to be a people of thanksgiving, today and every
“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” William Arthur Ward
Yours in Christ,
Commissioned Lay Pastor