Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Giving Thanks

Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Praise the Lord, all you nations.  Praise him, all you people of the earth.  For his unfailing love for us is powerful; the Lord’s faithfulness endures forever.  Praise the Lord!  Psalm 117:1-2(NLT)
“In that day,” says the Lord, “I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they will be my people.  This is what the Lord says:  “Those who survive the coming destruction will find blessings even in the barren land, for I will give rest to the people of Israel.”  Long ago the Lord said to Israel:  “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love.  With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.  I will rebuild you, my virgin Israel.  You will again be happy and dance merrily with your tambourines.  Again you will plant your vineyards on the mountains of Samaria and eat from your own gardens there.  The day will come when watchmen will shout from the hill country of Ephraim, ‘Come, let us go up to Jerusalem to worship the Lord our God.’”   Jeremiah 31:1-6(NLT)
Jeremiah’s Israel was decimated by conquering enemies.  His prophetic message was one of looking forward to the future with hope that God would once again bring blessing to His covenant people.  The Psalmist hits this hopefulness in the center of the target by encouraging the whole earth to thank God for his unfailing love.  That love is powerful and never-ending. 
How different are these two thoughts than a Thursday off so you can gather for a killer-meal with friends so you’ll have stamina to last through the Black Friday sales.
I have enough love for America that I want to pray for our country like Jeremiah and praise God for his goodness like the Psalmist. 
But sometimes, as we make comparisons of ancient Israel with current-day America, we come dangerously close to reading-into Scripture’s metaphors and analogies our American pessimism or pride; either one shows our arrogance, assuming we are the center of the universe, and, yes, even the center of God’s attention. 
We take for ourselves too much.
And, taking too much for us is truly the rub.
A gluttonous day of feasting without so much as a nod in the direction of heaven serves as a stark reminder how we miss the mark when it comes to giving thanks to God.  I’ve been warned before to keep the prayer short because everyone’s hungry.
But here, on the verge of Advent, when we celebrate how God brought the centerpiece of his lovingkindness to earth, isn’t it rather fitting (in a Bohemian sort of style) to satisfy every appetite at the table while keeping the giving of thanks to God Spartan and short? 
That’s sort of what happens around the Christmas tree next month, isn’t it?  Got a baby Jesus in the manger to keep Christ in Christmas, but the real deal is how high the presents pile is piled.
But, now on Thanksgiving Eve, allow me a moment of preacher-madness.  What if, while the turkey, veggies and stuffing are being consumed the conversation around the table this year is a little less on which team will win the Super bowl, and more around how God’s goodness and everlasting kindness have made the feast we enjoy a reality.  What if we turned our hearts towards God instead of the stores?
Just a little madness from the back of my mind.

For You Today

I wouldn’t spring all that on the family just as you’re sitting down to the table tomorrow.  That would only bring indigestion and a possible lynching – yours! 
Talk about it tonight.  Prepare to give thanks.
You chew on that as you hit the Rocky Road…have a blessed day!

[i] Title image: By Ben+Sam (The famous Macy's Turkey), via Wikimedia Commons

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