Monday, November 21, 2016


This is Monday of Thanksgiving week.  And once again, we, as a country will be focussed on many important things (holiday travel, football, turkey dinner, and getting along with the in-laws).   Right at the end of all of our activities we will try to remember to be - Thankful.  If we are conscientious about it, some of us might even take a quick moment around the Thanksgiving dinner table to ask each other to say; "one thing that we are thankful for".  But for Christians, this holiday should carry more than a Hallmark Card's scant notice.  One of the things that has always defined us as people of faith is our consistent and persistent ability to be thankful at all times, through all circumstances and in all things.  In fact, if we were to rename ourselves - we might consider the name:


Now, bear with me for a moment, while you wonder to yourself whether Christians these days should possibly be given other names;


Those names are blogposst for another day:-)

From the beginning of the Bible to the end of the Bible there are consistent examples of people lifting up gratitude towards God.  Here is a short-list:

·     *   When Abram is brought to Bethel, the place where his family would stop and build a life, the Bible says, Abram built an altar to God, and there he called on the name of the Lord (Gen. 13:4).  Building an altar to God, was a way of saying THANK YOU to God.

·      *  When the Israelites had been in the wilderness for over 40 years, an entire generation, and then they finally crossed over the Jordan River, being led by a young leader named Joshua, Joshua commanded the people; Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan.  Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder….In the future when your children ask you , ‘What do these stones mean?”  tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. (Joshua, 4:6).  And again, it may seem strange to us, but that pile of stones was a way of THANKING God for what He had done to deliver them.

·      *  King David, was probably the most prolific THANKER in the Old Testament.  He wrote 150 Psalms or (songs), and almost every single one of these has the word or the sentiment of THANKS in it.  Whenever in the Bible you see the words, PRAISE, or BLESS, it basically means thanks.  Psalm 138 is my favorite Psalm of Thanks: I thank you Lord with all of my heart.  I sing praise before you to the Gods.  I face your Holy Temple and bow down and praise your name because of your constant love and faithfulness (Psalm 138).

·     *   The New Testament is no less replete with examples of THANKS.  One of my favorites is right in the Lord’s Prayer.  Jesus builds several pieces of thanks right into the Lord’s Prayer.  Our Father, who art in heaven, HALLOWED BE YOUR NAME.  calling God Holy is a way of thanking him. 
·      *  One of the last things that Jesus does before he is crucified is to have Passover meal.  The entire Passover meal is really a meal of thanks to God for delivering the Israelites from slavery.  But there is a part where Jesus adds an extra thanks, our communion Words of Institution: "And he took the bread and he GAVE THANKS, THANK YOU, and broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you, do this in remembrance of me.”

*  If you come from a more liturgical tradition, then you know the song the DOXOLOGY.  DOXOS is the Greek word for thanks.  The Doxology is a song of thanks;

            Praise God from who all Blessings Flow
Praise Him All creatures here Below
Praise Him Above the heavenly Hosts

Praise Father Son and Holy Ghost

Try changing this song from the word Praise to the word Thanks (eg: "Thank you God from whom all blessings flow.  Thank you God from all creatures here below...").

Here are three things that we can all do to improve our general sense of "thankfulness" this Thanksgiving.  They derive from the famous, "Prayer of Examen," a Spiritual Exercises book written by St. Ignatius Loyola who founded the Jesuit  religious tradition;

Thank Backwards
What are things that God has done for you in the past that you can be thankful for?  Here's an example letter of a pupil in school thanking a teacher and a teacher writing a thank-you note back to that pupil: "My Dear Willy, I can’t tell you how much your note meant to me.  I am in my 80’s.  living alone in a small room, cooking my own meals, lonely, and like the last leaf of autumn lingering behind.  You’ll be interested to know that I taught in school for more than 50 years, and yours is the first note of appreciation I ever received.  It came on a blue, cold morning, and it cheered me as nothing has done in many year."  Thank backwards!

Thank In the Moment
What is happening right at this moment that you can be thankful for?  For me, it is watching my five month old son swinging in his baby swing as the fire crackles behind him and my eight year old daughter plays with her miniature horses.  "Thank you God for this blessing!"  Thank in the moment.

Thank Forwards
This is the most fun form of thanks.  You will feel a bit like the famed Joel Ostein when you do it, but give it a try anyway; "Dear God, thank you for the great future that you have in store for me.  Thank you that everything that comes my way will be a blessing, not because I won't suffer some set-backs, but because you are a great God who redeems all things.  Thank you that my best days are ahead of me, because of you!  Thank you God!  Amen."  Thank forwards.

Thanking backwards, in the moment and forwards literally surrounds our souls with good feelings of gratitude and wholeness.

Before I go, I have one important thing to do.  I want to thank you! Thank you all for being such loyal blog-reading friends.  Thank you!  You make my life so much better.  I so love being a part of this internet community together.

All For Now,


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