It’s nice to smile when the year has been so odd and the holiday so different. To keep things on the lighter side, I pardoned the vegetables this year. Only the turkey and potatoes were executed for the greater good. The broccoli, cauliflower, beets, corn, spinach, and green beans can keep their lives for another year. It’s better that way for everyone. Well, here are some actual fun highlights from the day:
Fun Highlight #1: My grandcat Mrs. Mosby was here. Her mission in life seems to be to convert me from being a dog person to a cat person. Given the demon-possessed Pomeranian I used to own, that shouldn’t be too difficult.
Fun Highlight #2: We chuckled at the Thanksgiving list my son made when he was in third grade. It’s prominently displayed on the family room piano. He listed all his toys and relatives. All the relatives, that is, except his sister. She didn’t make the cut. Come to think of it, first on his list was that demon-possessed Pomeranian referenced above.
Fun Highlight #3: I had a random conversation with my son-in-law about Halloween candy. He wanted to know why I dislike candy corn so much. I said, “Because there’s not enough chocolate in it.” I rest my case.
Fun Highlight #4: My son-in-law rocked Mrs. Mosby to sleep, after which she apparently had a charismatic dream (see below). I’m thinking she’s a Pentecostal.
O.k., time for some real Thanksgiving humor. 🙂 Enjoy!
Table cleared. Kitchen cleaned. Thanks given. O.k., NOW we can decorate and play Christmas music in this house!
“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” – Cicero
“Ingratitude produces pride while gratitude produces humility.” – Orrin Woodward
“Gratitude bestows reverence…changing forever how we experience life and the world.” – John Donne
“God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say thank you?” – William Arthur Ward
“It is not happy people who are thankful. It is thankful people who are happy.” – Anonymous
Prior to the Israelites’ entry into the Promised Land, Moses issued a call to his countrymen for the ongoing praise and remembrance of God for his miraculous deliverance from Egypt and his gracious provisions in everyday life. His call is really a summons to daily thanksgiving—a fitting reminder on this day of feasting in the United States:
“When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
He led you through the vast and dreadful desert, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. He gave you manna to eat in the desert, something your fathers had never known, to humble and to test you so that in the end it might go well with you. You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.”
The Apostle Paul echoes a similar sentiment in 1 Corinthians 4:7: “What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?”
Israel’s many psalms of thanksgiving in the Psalter fulfill Moses’ call to the Israelites to express their grateful praise to God. Moreover, such is the abundant blessings of God to his people in all ages that Paul can instruct believers to “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess 5:18). As Nancy Leigh DeMoss has said:
“I have learned that in every circumstance that comes my way, I can choose to respond in one of two ways: I can whine or I can worship! And I can’t worship without giving thanks. It just isn’t possible. When we choose the pathway of worship and giving thanks, especially in the midst of difficult circumstances, there is a fragrance, a radiance, that issues forth out of our lives to bless the Lord and others.”
DeMoss is right. The latest lockdown has altered our plans for today, but we still have much to be thankful for. The table will be full and so will our hearts. We’ll eat and be satisfied, sharing the delights of the season, albeit with a smaller group than originally planned. And in the process, we’ll remember the Lord our God for who he is and what he has done.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING to all the readers of This New Life. Thanks for stopping by. Feel free to drop me a line if you have a need, would like to share a prayer request, or just want to chat.
It may be a bouncy, outdated, sing-songy little piece, but it contains a lot of wisdom: “Count your many blessings, name them one by one.” Today was a good day for doing exactly that.
>>> Got to have a meaningful time of worship this morning for “Christ the King Sunday.” We sang some of my all-time favorite Thanksgiving and throne songs, which always chokes me up.
>>> Got to see our first attempt at livestreaming the worship service work well this morning. Livestreaming will supplement our existing radio ministry and enable folks to see us as well as hear us.
>>> Got to see my niece from out-of-state this afternoon—the one from whom I may have purchased about $65 of Girl Scout candy to help get their start-up troop launched. (The “Milk Chocolate Mint Trefoils” are phenomenal.)
>>> Got to watch my daughter and her husband co-lead worship at their special Thanksgiving service earlier tonight. “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4). They even sang “The Blessing,” which I gushed about in a previous post.
>>> Got two packages in the mail today from Amazon. That’s always a good day, even when they’re not books for me. 🙂 Early online Christmas shopping is a must this year because of the virus. Prime makes it fast, which is also good because of the shipping crunch that’s coming.
>>> Got to spend some time tonight thinking about family, friends, and loved ones—new and old alike—remembering the best in each, and how God has loved and taught me so much through them.
And all those years you guided me So I could find my way.
And with God, being who he is, the best is always yet to come.
Time now to go top off a wonderful day with two episodes of The Crown, a beverage, and a few more pieces of that Girl Scout candy.
The Sunday before Thanksgiving is typically a precious time of worship for many believers—on at least two counts. First, according to the liturgical calendar, it’s the last Sunday after Pentecost, known in many traditions as Christ the King Sunday. Worshipers take the opportunity to ascribe glory and honor to King Jesus, who is Lord of chronos (or “unfolding”) time as well as kairos (or “epochal”) time. It’s a way of putting an exclamation mark on the longest season of the church year before the calendar starts all over again next week with the season of Advent. King Jesus “was, and is, and is to come.” He is Lord of all time.
Second, on the civil calendar in the United States, it’s the Sunday leading into Thanksgiving Day. Many North American worshipers therefore take the opportunity to thank the Lord for his many blessings and providential care throughout the year. “We Gather Together” is a meaningful hymn that we often sing on this day, but we skipped it this year because so many parishioners aren’t able to gather in person. Instead, they livestream the service to avoid exposure to the virus. Equally poignant to me, however, is Martin Rinkart’s evocative and stately hymn, “Now Thank We All Our God.” This piece, too, puts a lump in my throat, and we’re singing it today.
Rinkart was a German clergyman who served in the town of Eilenburg during the horrors of the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648). Overrun with refugees during the Great Epidemic of 1637, he conducted between 40 to 50 funerals a day. I can hardly imagine such a calling. Nevertheless, he found a way to be thankful under the most trying of circumstances, penning these memorable words:
Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices, Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices; Whofrom our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.
O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us, With ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us; And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed; And free us from all ills, in this world and the next!
All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given; The Son and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven; The one eternal God, whom earth and Heaven adore; For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.
I’m especially struck this year by the line, “And guide us when perplexed.” No doubt the presence of all that plague and war death around him took its toll personally and emotionally. How could it not? Rinkart, however, turned his mystification into a prayer request. “Guide us now, Lord, in these perplexing times. And as you keep us in your grace, free us from all ills, in this world and the next.” Such a request is appropriate in any age.
We’re not always sure why life unfolds the way it does. Chronos can be confusing sometimes, but believers know the ultimate kairos is on its way. Christ is coming back for his people, and all will recognize him then as the true King. Every knee will finally bow to him (Phil 2:10). “For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.”