Focus of thanksgiving.

“He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10

 When I was a young child the focus of Thanksgiving was pilgrims, Indians, turkey and giving thanks for our blessings.  That was six decades ago and now the focus of thanksgiving seems to be fading as our culture is preparing us for Christmas with catalogues and commercials on the radio and television proclaiming that sales are starting NOW in the second week of November; before Thanksgiving. 

When I lived in Haiti this North American holiday was not celebrated.  The office staff knew this and asked if I would prepare a thanksgiving meal for them with mashed potatoes and gravy; something that they had never experienced.  We baked a Haitian chicken and I made mashed potatoes and homemade gravy like my mother and grandmother used to make with lumps of the goody left in the bottom of the broiler pan; recalling thanksgiving in Nebraska while living in Haiti brought me memories of the reasons for which I was thankful. 

Our Heavenly Father has ordained many traditions and specific rituals to teach His people proper responses to His love and mercy.  Our Lord Jesus fulfilled the law of the Old Testament, and because of His ultimate sacrifice, we no longer must practice the laws that were in place to teach us of our shortcomings.  But Christ clearly promoted special times of giving thanks, and the teachings of Paul include turning our attitudes constantly towards gratitude.  The girls in the attached photo attend the Lutheran School in Ouanaminthe and they are giving thanks for their loving Savior, their school, their teachers, their meal and for you. 

Our Heavenly Father is not the God of hustle and bustle and stressful preparations that we North Americans have come to know.  He taught that we should quiet down and sit before Him. "Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth."  Perhaps the best way for us to experience this thanksgiving season is to make a special time for Thanksgiving prayers and heartfelt meditation.  We close today with the words from the hymn ‘Christ, by Heavenly Hosts Adored’ which was written by Henry Harbaugh in 1860. 

“Christ, by heavenly host adored, gracious, mighty, sovereign Lord God of nations, King of kings, Head of all created things, by the Church with Joy confest, God o'er all forever blest, pleading at Thy throne we stand, save Thy people, bless our land.  On our fields of grass and grain send, 0 Lord, the kindly rain; o'er our wide and goodly land crown the labors of each hand.  Let Thy kind protection be o'er our commerce on the sea. open, Lord, Thy bounteous hand; bless Thy people, bless our land.  Let our rulers ever be men that love and honor Thee; let the powers by Thee ordained be in righteousness maintained.  In the people's hearts increase love of piety and peace.  Thus united, we shall stand one wide, free, and happy land.”  

Dear Heavenly Father, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown.  Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.  Amen.  

May God be with you…Jay