My Wednesday evening Bible Study folks and I have been reading through the book of Hebrews lately. It’s not an easy book to read, it’s full of difficult images and thoughts that challenge us even today, but we have been having a good time working through it all.
One of the things I like best about the book is that the author, who is anonymous, has as difficult time as I do citing scripture. Like me, the author knows something is in the scriptures, but can’t seem to remember exactly where. So the author uses a phrase I have claimed for my own – it says somewhere.
With that in mind, and as we enter November, and as we approach our national Day of Thanksgiving, I recall that St Paul said somewhere, be thankful. It’s in one of his many laundry lists of things we ought to do as Christians living out a life of faith. He’s going along, and he just suddenly throws in, “and be thankful”.
No instructions on how to be thankful, or for what we ought to be thankful for. Just, be thankful. It is simple and yet profound at the same time. It’s easy to do, and yet it can be immensely challenging to do, as well. Be thankful. Be full of thanks.
I try very hard to say thank you – to the person taking my breakfast order at Chick-fil-A, to the cashier at the grocery store, the bank teller. I try to say thank you to people who hold a door open for me. I try to say thank you to the ushers when they bring he offering plates up, and to the communion assistant at the end of communion. If there is a situation where saying thank you is appropriate, I try very hard to actually say it.
I don’t think that sort of thing is very hard to do, either. Just say thank you. Just be thankful for the people who help us in so many small, and sometimes big, ways. I try very hard to be thankful, and to say thank you, to my wife, and my daughter, for so many reasons. Be thankful for, and to, family and friends.
Saying thank you, being thankful, is a way of communicating to folks that you don’t take them, or the things they do, for granted. There are few things more deflating for someone that to feel like they are being taken for granted. Thanks is a great way to overcome that.
All good, all super important. And yet, there is one person we have a tougher time saying thank you to, someone we find harder to be thankful for, thankful to. God. It seems harder to be thankful when it comes to God. Not that we aren’t thankful, but I find for myself, and a lot of good folks I know, actually saying thank you to God is hard to do. Being thankful when it comes to God is more of a challenge.
We can easily take God for granted. God is simply always there. God is always with us. God always loves us. God is always gracious towards us. God always forgives us. God never goes away from us. God never takes a day off. God is so faithful, so reliable, so constant, it becomes easy to take God for granted. It becomes easy to forget to be thankful.
And sometimes it feels like God doesn’t deserve thanks. When times are tough, when things are going bad, we not only aren’t thankful, we start blaming God. We start turning away from God. No thanks then.
But the idea is not that we are giving thanks to God FOR every situation. The act of faith is to give thanks to God IN every situation. To give thanks because, no matter we are facing, God is there, facing it with us. We are thankful, not always for what is, but always for that God is right there, with us, loving us, upholding us, forgiving us, comforting us, restoring us, regardless of what out “what is” actually is.
We are thankful to God because we can be thankful with God. It is the reality of God, the unfailing presence of God, the never-ending love of God that is cause for thankfulness. It is the very constancy of God, the very reliability of God, the very faithfulness of God, that causes us to be thankful.
So this November, so month so deeply focused on giving thanks, be thankful. Every day, in the midst of all circumstances. Be thankful with the folks you meet, and be thankful with the God who always meets us. It doesn’t have to be hard – a simple thank you will suffice.
Don’t forget about our annual Thanksgiving Eve worship service, in partnership with our friends from Peace in Zion UCC, here at St. Luke’s at 7 PM on 23rd (Pr. Pence from Peace in Zion will be the preacher, and you will be thankful for her message). Also, fair warning that on Christmas Day, which is on a Sunday this year, we will also be having a joint worship with Peace in Zion, at Peace in Zion, at 9:30 AM. See you in church!
Peace, Pr. Paul
Download Blog HERE