Dear friends in Christ at Trinity,
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but 2021 is almost over. Conversely, I love to be the bearer of good news, so I’ll tell you, 2021 is almost over. You’ll have to decide for yourself whether it was a good year or one you’d rather had gone differently. For my family, it has been a year with a lot of upheaval – but we’re happy with where we’ve ended up!
November brings the celebration of our national day of Thanksgiving, which itself invites some
reflection from all of us. Celebrating Thanksgiving encourages us to recognize both what we are thankful for and, perhaps more importantly, to whom we are thankful. In the secular world, the first part of that is the primary (and perhaps only) focus. The focus is on the things in our life we appreciate and the people in our lives we love. Make no mistake – it is good to count your
blessings. But a celebration of thanksgiving that only does so is terribly incomplete.
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast endures forever” (Psalm 136:1). I’d
encourage you to read through the entirety of Psalm 136 (it might take a few minutes). The theme is giving thanks to God because His love endures forever. That love is expressed in a multitude of reasons that we have to give thanks to the Lord. For the Israelites, those reasons included God’s creative acts, His redeeming acts during the Exodus from Egypt, His giving of the Promised Land and defeating those kings who opposed Israel, and His ongoing acts of provision. We could, in our own lives, add further reasons to give thanks. In the explanation to the fourth petition in Luther’s Small Catechism, we find a list: “Daily bread includes everything that has to do with the support and needs of the body, such as food drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, land, animals, money, goods, a devout husband or wife, devout children, devout workers, devout and faithful rulers, good
government, good weather, peace, health, self-control, good reputation, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.” Yet for all those things, we first and foremost give thanks to the one who gives the gifts.
Only in acknowledging that God has blessed us, not only through daily bread but even more
importantly with the gift of His Son Jesus, can we give thanks aright. It also enables us to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). If one’s viewpoint amounts to “the stuff that I have amassed is attributable to random happenstance in a fickle universe,” then you have every reason to be thankful or not in proportion to the extent to which you are satisfied. If you feel that you don’t have enough, or are upset that someone else has more, there is no real reason to be thankful. But if God “richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life” (Luther’s Small Catechism, Explanation to the First Article), then alongside St. Paul we can know “the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need” (Philippians 4:12).
So give thanks to God for all that He has done for you and continues to do for you. In our family, we’re giving thanks to God that a topsy turvy 2021 has brought us here together with you here at Trinity. We’re looking forward to what the rest of the year brings, and to God’s continued
graciousness all of our days. “Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures
forever” (Psalm 136:26).
Peace in Christ, Pastor Lieske