Pastor’s ponderings

This coming week our nation will hold our annual Thanksgiving celebrations.  Many of you have already began preparations for family gatherings and the great feast that will be had.  People will travel from near and far to join with one another around tables filled with a variety of food, homes filled with festive fellowship, and hearts filled with great fun.

            As I was growing up, I moved a lot, but spent most of my life in the mid-west and northeastern portions of our country.  I distinctly remember being taught that Thanksgiving originated in Massachusetts, as pilgrims gathered with Native Americans for a bountiful harvest feast.  Together they shared in many of the same things we do today – food, fellowship, and fun.  It wasn’t until I moved to Virginia some twenty-plus years ago that I learned a different history of this special occasion.  Here it is taught that Thanksgiving began here in Virginia two years earlier than it did in Massachusetts.  Yet, I was also interested to find that a Spanish explorer may have held a thanksgiving meal in Florida as early as 1565!  Regardless of what our regional histories attempt to convey, I think thanksgiving goes back much further than that.

            For the people of God, our hearts should be continually filled with thanksgiving.  We recognize the blessings that God has bestowed upon us since the very beginning.  As such, the Bible is full of verses and stories of thanksgiving.  Psalm 107:8-9 declares regarding the people of God, “Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind.  For he satisfies the thirsty, and the hungry he fills with good things” (NRSVUE).  You can find texts such as these throughout Scripture. They focus on where the abundant provisions we have received come from, who it is that continually cares for us, feeds us, and loves us.  And these texts are much older than our national thanksgiving feasts – thousands of years older.

            So, perhaps as we gather around our Thanksgiving tables this year, we might all pause to recognize that we join not in American traditions a few hundred years old, but in ancient traditions going back much further.  Instead of focusing on just food and family, perhaps we are being called back to the heart of thanksgiving, the source from which all things come –

“O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,

for his steadfast love endures forever.”

(1 Chron 16:34, NRSVUE)

                                                                        Always pondering,

                                                                        Pastor Steve

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