TITLE: A Thanksgiving Post Mortem
DATE: November 25, 2018
TEXT: 1 Thessalonians 5:18 –ESV- 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Well, my friends, no sooner had the Thanksgiving leftovers been put in the fridge and my mailbox started to fill with reports about all kinds of things which had happened on our holiday of gratitude.
Now, I deeply respect the kindness, the often unappreciated benevolence of the Native Americans who welcomed those settlers. Even so, to put the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe of Massachusetts in the place of Lord is not right.
I have little doubt Governor Bradford of Plymouth Colony would approve. He and his compatriots had left everything to follow Christ. Theirs was a costly decision. During December of their first winter, six people died; in January, eight more passed away. In February, seventeen breathed their last and in March, 13 were buried. Four entire families were wiped out and only one family made it through that first winter without losing someone. Of the eighteen married women, 13 died.
In spite of these losses, after that first winter, after the first harvest, Governor Bradford called for a day of Thanksgiving which lasted three days. Sincerely and without cynicism they gave thanks to God, not to the Indians; they praised the Savior, not their native neighbors.
The pilgrims understood the words of St. Paul who, centuries before had shared this Spirit-inspired encouragement; to the church in Thessalonica. He said, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
And for those of you who are thinking, “Easy for Paul to say. What did he know of job security and trying to live on a senior citizen’s fixed income?” Well, Paul knew a lot about the troubles.
Writing to the church in Corinth, Paul gave a litany of the difficulties he had encountered; which he had endured. He says, ‘Five times I received…39 lashes…; three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea…” He said he had been ‘in danger from rivers, in danger from robbers, in danger from Jews and Gentiles, in danger in the city, in the wilderness, at sea and from false prophets. He had gone many nights without sleep, lived through hunger, thirst, cold and exposure.” (Paraphrase 2 Corinthians 11)
In spite of all that, Paul could encourage, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.”
Understand, the thanksgiving Paul had, and encouraged in others, was for the sinless Son of God Who had come into this world to seek and save the lost; Who had been born to live a life which, by its perfection, would break down the insurmountable wall which sin had built to separate humanity from its loving Father.
Paul gave thanks as hundreds of millions of Christians give thanks, for a Savior Who, by His resurrection from the dead has guaranteed forgiveness and eternal life to all who are given faith.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, the world may look upon Thanksgiving as a once-a-year event. Help me remember that even as Your grace and gifts are ongoing, my thanks and praise should be the same. This I pray in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
The music which introduces and concludes our devotions was written by Guy Baumann, one of my long-ago confirmands. He is singing with three brothers. This song comes from the album: The Baumann Brothers which may be ordered here: http://thebaumannbrothers.com/index.html