October 23, 2017

Five Days of Thanksgiving (3)

NOTE: We have not had a lot of comments on these posts, nevertheless I hope they are encouraging to you and helping you give voice to your own expressions of thanks. Please feel welcome to share some of those expressions in the comments if you are moved to do so.

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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.

True Spirituality, Francis Schaeffer

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Today, we continue our five days of thanksgiving by asking God to quiet our hearts and enable us to give thanks for creation and the world God has given us.

O Lord, how manifold are your works!
   In wisdom you have made them all;
   the earth is full of your creatures.
Yonder is the sea, great and wide,
   creeping things innumerable are there,
   living things both small and great.
There go the ships,
   and Leviathan that you formed to sport in it.

These all look to you
   to give them their food in due season;
when you give to them, they gather it up;
   when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
When you hide your face, they are dismayed;
   when you take away their breath, they die
   and return to their dust.
When you send forth your spirit, they are created;
   and you renew the face of the ground.

May the glory of the Lord endure for ever;
   may the Lord rejoice in his works—
who looks on the earth and it trembles,
   who touches the mountains and they smoke.
I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;
   I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
May my meditation be pleasing to him,
   for I rejoice in the Lord.

• Psalm 104:24-34, NRSV

I don’t know about you, but I usually take the stage on which I live my life for granted. I don’t take enough time to enjoy this wonderful world God has given us. Sure, I have the occasional “aha!” moment when I see something in nature that is particularly spectacular. At times (nowhere nearly often enough) I even make an intentional effort to go to natural surroundings that testify clearly of God’s glory, beauty, and creativity so that I can bask in the wonder of nature. However, most of the time, creation is simply the backdrop for this stage play of life, and most of my attention is given to what’s happening with myself and the actors or on ideas that are being prompted by our words and actions.

It is obvious that humans in the 21st century are nowhere near as connected to nature as in past times. Technology has enabled us to harbor ourselves from much of its ordinary harshness and take shelter in cocoons of our own making where we seek comfort, convenience, and consistency. The wildness, messiness, unpredictability, freedom, and fear of the world is routinely absent from our lives. Oh sure, natural disasters still overwhelm us and bring out what little awe is left in our spirits. Apart from that, however, we prefer to get most of our “nature” on some kind of screen in the comfort of our homes.

Various conservation and environmental movements have played a role in keeping us cognizant of our surroundings and helping us pay attention to behaving responsibly and respectfully toward them. Sadly, even some of these have been politicized to the point where we get turned off by the subject of our stewardship of creation.

Today, we pause to thank our Creator God…

  • for creating the heavens and earth; all that is,
  • for making a good world and filling it with goodness,
  • for skies and seas and land, and the creatures that fill them,
  • for our own part in creation as creatures made in God’s image, blessed and called to be his representatives,
  • that all creation testifies to God’s glory, beauty, creativity, and concern for his creatures,
  • for fresh air and clean water, and the ability of nature to renew itself
  • for fertile soil and the earth’s abundant yield,
  • for creatures that delight us, amaze us, and help us in our human lives,
  • for stars and galaxies, for space that expands our minds and hearts, and lifts our eyes to the heavens,
  • for complex worlds too small to see or comprehend,
  • for mountains that send our spirits soaring, and flatlands that stretch our hopes beyond the horizons,
  • for cycles of seasons that form our expectations and heighten our anticipations,
  • for those who study the natural world and give us some small sense of its wonders and blessings.

Lord, we echo the psalmist: “How manifold your works!” We could never name them all, much less understand and describe them. And yet we thank you for giving us the curiosity and hunger to grasp the magnificence of your creation and how we may live within it more fully.

If this creation is so vast and wonderful, what then will new creation be?

Comments

  1. Thankfulness is not a spicy subject that generates much debate. Interestingly it is completely foreign to us in our youth. How many moms have said, “What do you say… what do you say? Tell the man thank you.”. The reason for that is obvious – the world is here to serve little Johnny. Learning more than the rote phrase and acquiring a robust sense of gratitude means coming to appreciate my relative position in the world and it ain’t on the throne.

  2. Thank you Chaplain Mike for this series of posts on Thanksgiving, I am enjoying it. I especially liked the second post and printed it out for my husband. He agreed that it was very thoughtful. As several generations gather at our table on Thursday we will read it. We usually read Psalm 100 and mumble a few vague things we are grateful for around the table, but the list you gave was especially fitting for remembering all our loved ones both present and not present, in heaven and on earth.
    I also want to thank the community here for the honesty in dealing with faith questions and practices and for the time and effort it takes to write the many posts. I took mostly science classes in college and wish I had put more effort in my English classes in HS and college. I appreciate those that can write and express themselves well.

  3. I think that I am often convicted when someone eloquently offers up thanks to God for His many varied gifts.

    I so often do not thank Him.

    And I know I hardly ever thank Him for the pain and suffering in my life, either. Even though I know that He uses it all for His purposes.

    Thank you for doing what I fail to do, much of the time.

  4. I was at a conference in San Francisco this weekend. While I was there, I was nearly hit by a car turning left while pedestrians were crossing. I didn’t see the car. A taxi that was turning did and honked causing the left turning car to stop before running me down. I found myself the next morning in St. Patrick’s giving thanks for grace. I am not claiming a miraculous intervention, but was reminded that God’s grace is ever present even when we are not thinking about it.

  5. Chaplain Mike,

    I have truly appreciated these thanksgiving posts. After reading each one I have said within myself : “Thank you Lord for the gift of Chaplain Mike in our lives and for the time, effort and love with which he writes these things for our benefit. I also thank you Lord for Jeff and all that he, too, does to bless us and for the entire community of imonk. “

  6. When I read ‘for those who study the natural world and give us some small sense of its wonders and blessings,’ my heart was so thankful for those fabulous, faithful bloggers and others who photograph the most amazing creatures, plants, places, etc. and share them with us online or on TV! I’ve seen God’s Creation through the eyes of these people as they’ve captured a moment in time! I’ve seen what I’ll never see with my own eyes! I’ve taken an armchair travelogue of places to which I’ll never get to go. And while photographs only give a glimpse, I imagine the real thing to be that much more amazing! A foretaste of heaven! I’m grateful!

  7. When Paul says “In EVERYTHING give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” that doesn’t leave much of the day not to be giving thanks. When you rise up, when you lay down, when you go out and when you come in. I think that covers it.

  8. David Cornwell says:

    Moving back to a rural area after retirement, to an older house, with the sandy dust of the surrounding fields seeping through the cracks, with cattle a few feet away, with corn and beans growing all around, and woods across the road, I’m reminded off our ancient origins. “…till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” For these simple things I give thanks.

    When I can, I walk the fields and woods near home, and once again am amazed. Or to one of the preserved environmental areas also near home, where we cooperate once again with nature to preserve its simplicity, complexity, and beauty. For this I give thanks.

    This week I’ve been reminded to be thankful for other simple things: a bed and a pillow, always food, shelter, children, grandchildren, and my companion, friend, and spouse of many years. And most of all the gift of grace that comes through Christ.

    And for the ability to connect with wonderful people here on Internet Monk.

  9. Give me a mountain stance, a beautiful view that overlooks a valley and a big tree to sit under and suck in the good air and I am completely de-stressed. So I absolutely thank God for this and all the birds I get to see while I am under the tree.

    I am blessed. And I am thankful that I finally got the chance to take a short back-packing trip with my two college age sons. I am thankful for still being in good enough shape to do it, thankful for all the beauty I got to share with my grown kids, and thankful for the fact that they still wanted to hang with me. I am also thankful for the wildlife, including the rattler we unexpectedly came upon while walking the trail.

    I am thankful that I can still run outside. I once saw a twilight zone episode (1950’s version) where these group of older people in an old folks home pined for the time when they could run once again, and for a time their wish came true. This stuck with me so I don’t take it for granted when I am running in the park.

    I am thankful for a family that really does show each other their love, from my wife and college age kids all the way down to my six year old. Now that I have opened my eyes and I am actualy paying attention to things it is really a joy to see and participate in.

  10. This is an excellent encouragement for us all and for those who also might consider this one that I read on another blog.

    http://www.danieldarling.com/2011/11/dads-should-lead-on-thanksgiving/

  11. St. Augustine said, “A Christian should be a hallelujah from head to toe.” That is what thanksgiving “looks like” to me. We should me the most thankful people on the face of the earth.

  12. Margaret Catherine says:

    Deeply grateful to God, tonight, for all the graces (those expected and those completely unexpected) of my two-day silent retreat. Not least for having a retreat mistress who suffers from my same condition of “face-blindness”, and thus being able to feel the burden shared and understood. At least for a day.