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And after giving thanks . . . (John 6:11)
An interesting historical note . . . Our national celebration of Thanksgiving is thought to have been inspired by a gathering of Puritan and Pilgrim settlers and Native Americans in the Plymouth colony in 1621. Puritans, as radical religious reformers during the time of the Protestant Reformation, rejected most religious holidays in favor of Days of Thanksgiving. These days were scheduled wherever they experienced acts of Providence or what they believed to be God’s intervention in the world. A bountiful harvest, after hard times in the New World, and the generous acts of people whose lands they would shortly overtake, would have been one of these acts of God.
Monday 2 Chronicles 30:21-23 (NRSV)
This year the Jewish celebration of Passover coincides with our national celebration of Thanksgiving. The Jewish people certainly believed that God intervened in the world on their behalf and established a great celebration to recognize this providence, as did the Puritans. The rituals and meal were different, but the impulse to thank God was the same.
How has God intervened in your world?
How have you recognized this act of God?
Have you continued to celebrate, seven days and then another seven days like the people of Israel, or each year as we do now with Thanksgiving and Passover?
Tuesday Psalm 95:1-2 (NRSV)
O come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise.
“Let us come into his presence” is an interesting twist. At times of thanksgiving, we usually invite God into our presence. Even better that God invites us into his presence. Even more for which to be thankful . . . and to make some noise?
How do you express your thanks to God? We each have our own ways, but this week let’s try to expand our repertoire with a new prayer at Thanksgiving dinner, maybe a song, maybe an act of kindness to others to pass on our blessings.
Wednesday Psalm 116:12-13 (NRSV)
What shall I return to the Lord for all his bounty to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord.
The Jewish people and the Puritans each experienced the mercy of God, saved from slavery in Egypt and from hunger and cold of the New World. Through Jesus, we also are saved from our sins. In turn for our material and our spiritual bounties, God simply asks that we call on him.
This week, what are the bounties that you want to celebrate?
When and how do you plan to call on God with your thanks?
Thursday 2 Corinthians 4:15 (NRSV)
Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
Paul encourages his congregation to keep faith, even to death, and that the grace of God will protect his people on earth and deliver them to eternal glory. Paul says this grace will increase our thankfulness. We offer our thanks, as we will this week, but how often do think ahead to ways in which our thanksgiving might grow. God’s grace is something to add to our Thanksgiving prayers.
How has God been graceful to you this past year?
How might you give a special thanks for your harvest of mercy?
Friday Philippians 4:6 (NRSV)
Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
Thanksgiving is not only a time to celebrate God’s working in the world and our collective and individual bounties. It is also a time to ask God to continue to intervene for us. Prayerfully, humbly, and with thanksgiving make your requests known to God.
What do you want to ask God this week?
Saturday John 6:11 (NRSV)
Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted.
Jesus’ example of giving thanks is simple and straightforward, though we do not know much about the details. And Jesus does not give us any instructions around giving thanks. “And after giving thanks,” appears in the narrative of the feeding of the multitude and of the last supper. Clearly, Jesus was giving thanks to God. But, what did he say? How did he go about it?
Imagine you were among the disciplines at the last supper. Write down the words you think Jesus would have said as he “gave thanks”.
Think of the many paintings of the last supper and now paint one that captures Jesus giving thanks. How will Jesus example shape our own “giving thanks” this week?
La Jolla Lutheran Church is a member of Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ, a fast-growing association of churches that believe the Bible. Other LCMC churches in the San Diego area include Penasquitos Lutheran Church at 14484 Penasquitos Drive; and St. Timothy Lutheran Church at 2602 Reo Drive. Check the list of more than 800 congregations to find an LCMC church near you.
The Scripture quotations contained herein are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible (NRSV), copyright, 1989, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S. A. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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