“Word for Today” – Thanksgiving Day – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

November 26, 2009 at 4:45 am Leave a comment

To my “Word for Today” friends:  On this special day, I thought it would be appropriate to post an article I wrote for the November edition of Concordia’s Vineyard newsletter.  As we celebrate around food and with family, I hope this article gladdens your heart as you ponder all of God’s good gifts for which you can be thankful. I will post a very important blog concerning the rapture and 1 Thessalonians 4 tomorrow. Stay tuned…

It was truly a mountaintop moment.  I’ll never forget seeing her rush down Concordia’s breezeway in her pristine white dress, bursting through the back doors of the worship center, and coming toward me.  The day I married Melody was a day I will always cherish.  But, as seems to be the way of life, you must eventually leave the mountaintop moments of life and tread into the valley of reality.

The valley of reality struck less than a week after our wedding.  By then, the ceremony was ancient history, the reception was long passed, and we had returned from our brief honeymoon to our apartment, littered with wedding gifts – lots of wedding gifts.  Mixers, crock pots, flatware, bed linens, personal effects, and hundreds of dollars of gift cards to Target.  “Okay,” Melody announced, a towering stack of cards in her hand, “It’s time to put this stuff away, but as we do, we need to write a thank you card for each and every one of these gifts!”  Each and every one of these gifts?  But there were hundreds of them!  Nevertheless, gift after gift, I wrote these thank you notes, even though my hand got cramped and my tongue got dry from licking all those envelopes.  I must confess that that more notes I wrote, the briefer my expressions of gratitude became.  I appreciated the gifts, but the overwhelming task of writing hundreds of cards led to the underwhelming nature of my notes of thankfulness.

Unfortunately, like my thank you cards, many modern day expressions of gratitude are sadly underwhelming.  We do not respond adequately to, or even bother to notice, the many things for which we have to be thankful.  That is what made some words from the famed poet Ralph Waldo Emerson in a sermon he delivered on Thanksgiving Day of 1830 so striking to me: “At first, brethren, consider whether each of us has not had some reason to acknowledge the special favor of God himself.”  Emerson is calling us to reflect on our lives and find some gift from God for which we might be thankful.  This kind of a call from a pastor to his people at Thanksgiving is anything but striking, though.  Indeed, it is a common call.  No, what really struck me about Emerson’s sermon was not his call to thankfulness, but the first reason he offered as to why we should give thanks:  “Twelve months are past.”

Did I hear that right?  We ought to be thankful to God simply because a year has passed from one Thanksgiving to the next?  Sure enough, Emerson’s first reason for thankfulness is the simple gift of time.  Perhaps the simple gift of time was especially poignant to Emerson because his beloved wife Ellen lie sick in bed during this period with tuberculosis.  She would die from the disease the following February.  God’s gift of time with his wife, then, became suddenly precious to Emerson.

The text on which Emerson based his sermon for that Thanksgiving Day was Psalm 107:  “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever” (verse 1).  The Psalmist, like Emerson, references time.  Except the Psalmist does not call us to give thanks for twelve months; rather, the Psalmist calls us to give thanks for “forever.”  For long after our lives have passed from this earth, we will have an eternity with a God who loves us.  And that should be enough to move any heart to thankfulness.

As we celebrate another Thanksgiving this day, do not let your expressions of gratitude wallow in mediocrity.  Instead, make them hearty and overwhelming.  For God’s gifts are hearty and overwhelming.  And if you need something for which to be thankful, consider this:  Twelve months have passed.  Not only that:  Eternity awaits.  Give thanks to the LORD for this!

Entry filed under: Word for Today.

“Word for Today” – 1 Thessalonians 3 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com “Word for Today” – 1 Thessalonians 4 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

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