Give thanks in all things
Richard Reinwald, St. John UCC
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[November 19, 2012]
This can be a very confusing
time of year. As one looks around town, one sees leaves showering
lawns, laying down a carpet of yellow, brown and gold. On front
porches, pumpkins left over from Halloween can be seen, and the
stores around town are festooned with Christmas lights. I noticed
the other day that the freezer case in the grocery is overflowing
with frozen turkeys, and a cardboard Pilgrim was standing nearby,
holding a facsimile of a frozen pie crust, which leads me to believe
that in spite of the confusion of reminders, it is a fact that
Thanksgiving is near.
Roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, turkey gravy, cranberry sauce,
steaming hot corn, sweet potatoes, the aroma of seasoned stuffing
fresh from the oven, pumpkin pie, Pilgrim hats, cornucopias, uncles,
aunts, cousins, grandmothers and grandfathers gathered around a
lavish table are but a few of the images of Thanksgiving. Dads
watching football, long lines at airports -- these are part of the
scene as well.
But Thanksgiving? How much do our celebrations and
observances have to do with giving thanks? Where do we see God in
all of this?
The first settlers at Plymouth lived close enough to the soil to
know how dependent they were on God's providence. They had learned
to thank God in the midst of the bitterness of winter, and they were
quick to thank God during abundant times of harvest, affirming that
God is near in all times and things.
Even though there are times when we may not feel especially
blessed, the Apostle Paul reminds us there is always something for
which we can be thankful. The Pilgrims had a custom of putting five
kernels of corn on each empty plate before eating a meal as a
reminder of the daily ration of corn that each person received
before the first harvest. Life was hard, but even so, there was
still a spirit of thanksgiving.
At the sailing of the Mayflower, the Rev. John Robinson, pastor
to the Pilgrims, commented in his farewell address that God wasn't
finished with this band of believers and that more would surely be
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Would that he could have seen that this bold step into a new
world would evolve into a nation that would establish as a national
holiday a day for thanking God. Little did he know that it would be
a rich land in which more would wonder about "what" they would eat
over "if" they would eat; that it would be a land in which the
rising obesity of its children would become a major health concern.
To deny that we are blessed is to ignore the obvious.
We teach our children to say "please" and "thank you" as the
rudiments of civility and courtesy, yet it is so easy to be
unthinking toward the God from whom all blessings flow.
The Apostle Paul reminds us "to give thanks in all things." (1
Thessalonians 5:18) Thanks and giving thanks are mentioned no less
than 168 times in the Bible. Google it.
So obviously, it's something that is near to God's heart. No
matter what our circumstance, there is always something for which to
[By the REV. RICHARD W. REINWALD, St. John United
Church of Christ]