Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Well dear friends, we have come to the month of Thanksgiving. At least in the church office, it feels as though September and October have flown by in the blink of an eye. I’m not entirely sure that I am ready for it to be November, but the calendar will not wait for me.
Thanksgiving is an interesting holiday for Christians, because it isn’t a Christian holiday! It’s a national one. It was officially instituted as the fourth Thursday in November by President Lincoln in 1863, although it had been celebrated unofficially before then.
Although it may not be a Christian holiday, giving thanks is one of the foundational aspects of our faith. Each Sunday, during the Great Thanksgiving of our communion service, I say these words: “It is indeed right, our duty, and our joy that we should at all times and in all places give thanks and praise to you, Almighty God.”
Think about those words for a minute: at all times and in all places. They’ve always caused me to stumble just a bit, especially in circumstances for which I do not feel particularly thankful. How can I be thankful when considering the evil in our world, evil which seems to be more prevalent than ever before? How can I be thankful given a bad diagnosis, or a natural disaster, or the death of a loved one? I cannot believe that God wants us to be thankful for such things.
But that is not our purpose in giving thanks. We do not give thanks for all situations, but we do give thanks in all situations. We give thanks for God, who is with us even in the midst of situations that no one would be thankful for. And we give thanks to God in our joys and celebrations, too.
This Thanksgiving, I am thankful to be part of a community of faith that welcomes our thanks, and welcomes us, in all circumstances. Our St. Paul’s family is supportive and caring, whether we are in the midst of joys or sorrows. As the Scripture says: “Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). Being part of this community strengthens my faith, and I give thanks for that.
What are you thankful for?