Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanksgiving Letter to JUMC

I am a firm believer that God is very active in today’s world, still moving in exciting ways and often doing the unexpected. Because I believe this to be true, I can say that it is no accident that Thanksgiving Day is celebrated during the same month as All Saints Day.

"I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad. Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together!

“I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.

“Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the one who takes refuge in him! Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack…
The LORD redeems the life of his servants;
none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.”

- from Psalm 34 (ESV, adapt.)

We have many things for which we should be thankful to God: family, friends, food, shelter, and, above all, Jesus himself, through whom we can share life eternal and abundant.

But as the smells of potatoes and gravy mix with the cool autumn air, do not forget that we celebrate our national day of Thanksgiving in the shadow of All Saints Day. This is a reminder to us that in addition to the familiar experiences of the holiday, we are to be exceedingly thankful for our loved ones in the faith who have already been received into the arms of our Heavenly Father. This is a reminder to us that in Jesus Christ, by the prodigious, unexplainable power of the Holy Spirit, we are united with these saints in a way we cannot yet fully comprehend, and in a way this broken world in which we live can never understand. In a very real way, these saints – with Jesus – are present at our tables of celebration.

Look around you as you share the holiday meal….see the turkey, the dressing, the pumpkin pie…hear the sounds of football, clanging silverware, and pleasant conversation…smell the bounty of excellence before you…and know that you are not alone in your joy. Sitting with you, enjoying the day more than you ever could, reveling in the delight of family laughter, delighting in the gathering of love, smiling energetically at the wondrous festivities, is Jesus, the one who loves you most of all. And, as is often his way, he is not alone; he has brought guests with him to the table, who are also filled with gladness and the kind of peace that defines eternity.

Know that the love you experience at this banquet is but a foretaste of glory, and that the One who makes it all possible is filled with joy as you give him richly deserved thanks. So, light a holy candle this Thanksgiving in honor of the guest of honor, that crazy, loving preacher from Nazareth. And light another to honor those who in the past have shared the meal with you…and continue to do so because of the life, death, and resurrection of that preacher. And may this holiday find you to be truly, abundantly thankful.

In Jesus,
Pastor Keith

1 comment:

Brett Probert said...

Well said! Happy Thanksgiving to you Keith. I am thankful for you! (Literal translation: you may someday be my DS and I'm sucking up to you.)