Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Dear Bethany Disciples,
As we turn the calendar over to November our thoughts turn to Thanksgiving. We usually associate November with the day that occurs on the Thursday at the end of the month. Where we get together with family and enjoy turkey with all the fixings and one another. I hope as you all gather in these times you will be able to recall a hundred blessings that you have experienced in the past year, even in the midst of a pandemic.
In the church and in our lives as disciples of Jesus our lives are bathed and clothed in thanksgiving year around. As Saint Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ for you." I am most certain that even in the midst of trouble and crisis you can find something to be thankful to God for; especially for not forsaking us and constantly being present and guiding us through those times. But sometimes we might forget this and just dwell on the bad. We are human after all. Maybe it is right that we devote a day of the year with this special focus of thanksgiving.
In church it seems that November brings with it the thanksgiving focus. Right from the very start, November 1, we will celebrate the Feast of All Saints. It is a service where we will give thanks to God for our loved ones who have died and gone to be with the Lord. It is a day that is mingled with tears and joy. Tears of sadness in that our loved is not with us today, but a sense of joy that they now enjoy the "inexpressible joys that God has prepared for those love Him" (from the prayer of the day for All Saints). We will give God thanks for knowing them and for the gifts they brought in our lives. It is indeed a day of thanksgiving to God for Jesus Christ for making them and us saints through His death and resurrection.
On November 15 we will make our commitments for the coming ministry year. Yes, it is that time when get to turn in our pledge. You should be receiving a letter with a commitment card soon. I love the offertory prayer on page 67 in the Lutheran Book of worship, "We offer with joy and thanksgiving what you have first given us — ourselves, our time, our possessions, signs of your gracious love. Receive them for the sake of him who offered himself for us, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen." These commitments are made as a response of thanksgiving for God's many blessings.
On November 22, is Christ the King, the last Sunday of our church year. This certainly carries with it a sense of thanksgiving in that Jesus is proclaimed Christ the King in our lives and throughout the whole year, from His birth at Christmas to His return in glory on the clouds. Jesus is still present through His gentle rule to reign over His Kingdom of grace.
Then on November 26 is the national day of Thanksgiving. Maybe by then you all when be able to count your blessing, even as many as one hundred on that day. Yes, we do have much to be thankful for over the last year. Even in this difficult year of pandemic God has been watching over us, protecting us, and guiding us. The gospel of our Lord is be preached, youth are being taught, youth are being catechized, the sacraments are being celebrated, the crops are in or just about in and we have our lives, homes, family, church family and most of all we have Jesus who loves us. We are all safe and secure in the hands of our almighty God. "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances."
From your thankful pastor,