December 17, 2017

Five Days of Thanksgiving (1)

For the next five days, we will devote one post each day to giving thanks.

No, we are not going all Osteen, “positive vibes only” on you.

It is just that, whenever I come to the final Sunday of the Church Year, and at the time when Americans celebrate the Thanksgiving feast, I am reminded of words that I first read in Francis Schaeffer’s fine book, True Spirituality, some thirty years ago:

A quiet disposition and a heart giving thanks is the real test of the extent to which we love and trust God at that moment.

I cannot escape the challenge of those words. They make me think. They cut me to the quick. They lead me to Christ, where I confess my ingratitude, seek his forgiveness, and request the gift of his Spirit so that I may practice a new obedience of thanksgiving and praise.

So here and now, at the closing of the year, amidst the abundance of harvest, Lord, we give you thanks…

  • for all we have experienced,
  • for all we have learned,
  • for all the times we’ve fallen and gotten back up,
  • for seasons of health and vitality, and for your presence with us in our sick beds,
  • for all the people we have met and who have welcomed us into their lives,
  • for all the music that has evoked deep feelings in our hearts,
  • for the moments our stomachs hurt from laughing so hard,
  • for the little epiphanies and surprises that made us smile,
  • for the memories of those who’ve gone before us and laid the foundations for our lives,
  • for seasons when we wept and wondered at God’s absence
  • for creation’s endless capacity for eliciting wonder in our hearts and minds,
  • for those who spoke honestly to us, even when they had to say hard words of warning or rebuke,
  • for each breath, each heartbeat, each step,
  • for strength to serve others and bring some benefit to their lives,
  • for our families and those dearest to us, in whose bonds we find our identity and place in the world
  • for seasons of plenty to make us glad, and seasons of want to make us trust,
  • for the communities and nations of the world in which we live and find order for our lives,
  • for the happy fellowship of friends and times of solitude,
  • for the moments of silence and refreshment — for sabbath.

Above all, we thank you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, that in you we live and move and have our being. With deepest gratitude, we thank you for the gift of life, the possibilities of new life, and the sure and certain hope of eternal life in Christ. We thank you for our baptism and for death to the old life and resurrection into newness of life. We thank you for the Church, the family of God, who despite all her schisms, heresies, and failures, will be our family forever. We thank you for the Word of God through which you speak Christ to us, and the Table at which you feed us with Christ. We thank you for the gift of your Spirit who empowers us for new obedience. We thank you for calling us to our various vocations through which we may give your love to our neighbors and to the world. We thank you for our neighbors, and even for our enemies, because they give us opportunity to extend your grace, hospitality, and love, and they often teach us better than our own religious practices. We thank you for all the resources you have entrusted to our care, and for providing ways of learning and serving that we may discharge our trust.

Amen.

 

A Psalm. A Song for the Sabbath Day.

It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
to declare your steadfast love in the morning,
and your faithfulness by night,
to the music of the lute and the harp,
to the melody of the lyre.
For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work;
at the works of your hands I sing for joy.

• from Psalm 92, NRSV

Comments

  1. I am thankful that, due to kidney stone sending me to the ER in 1999, that a case of ovarian cancer was found so early and surgery performed so quickly that no chemo was needed, and I did not have to leave my then-teenaged sons.

    I am thankful that the couple of barely twenty-ish kids who got married in 1979 have grown together, not apart, and are still in love all these years later. My husband was the first person to show me what UNconditional love looked like.

    And, I am thankful beyond words for being allowed to hold and love my child’s children, and watch his brother prepare for Christian marriage this summer…when we feared a decade ago that he would be in prison or dead.

  2. So much to be thankful for, Chaplain Mike! Thank you for the reminder.

  3. Ahhh! This is a post to come back to again in the coming days!
    Thank you!

  4. When I start to type the things I am grateful for it sounds trite to me even though I truly am grateful so I will just say that I am tremendously grateful for numerous things and that I appreciate this season which brings that into focus. Thank Lord Jesus.

  5. I have gone through sudden hard times and incredible stress in the last four years, not as much as some people but still more than most folks want to hear about. I am grateful for God’s presence through all the mess, reminding me that all of this comes sifted through His fingers. And, I am grateful for the body of Christ in the local church who reached out to me and came alongside when I needed help. When I looked for help from one source that couldn’t help, another came along; sometimes it was just the Holy Spirit giving me the strength to put one foot in front of the other. Thank you, Lord.

  6. Amen

  7. And thank You, Father, for the gift of wise words that remind us to be thankful. Thank you for this wonferful site to which You led me when I was in need of depth and wisdom and which You have used to bring both affirmation and conviction to my life.

  8. Oops — “wonderful.”