Give thanks for faith

Seek out fellowship in remembrance of others

Nov 21, 2016 by

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Thanksgiving is known for many things: crisp-skinned roasted turkeys, autumn leaves, family gatherings. It is a time to reunite and give thanks for what God has given, reflecting on harvest as winter’s chill advances.

But it can be difficult for those who lack family with which to connect or who have suffered losses and are mindful of absences.

The Apostle Paul implored the church in Thessalonica to “rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:18).

It is an easy admonition for a man of God to make, but what if we don’t feel like always giving thanks? Especially at a time of year when Butterball wants families to manifest their feelings by purchasing 20-pound turkeys?

The Book of Job tells the story of a man’s faithfulness after losing everything. Set upon by sores, head to foot, Job takes his lumps, bereft of possessions, health and children. He despises his life, wishing to be left alone. His days have no meaning, but somehow he maintains faith in God. “Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?” he replies to the suggestion of rebuking God.

Job’s story has universal themes, including caring friends who mean well but sometimes offend. “Miserable comforters are you all” Job complains as they awkwardly respond to his troubles. Yet they never abandon him, and neither does God.

“What though the tempest round me roars, I know the truth it liveth. What though the darkness round me close, songs in the night it giveth.” Every bit of Robert Lowry’s hymn “My Life Flows On” is in the first person. But those songs in the night aren’t given by God alone for people in solitude. They well up from a chorus sung in fellowship and community. “It finds an echo in my soul. How can I keep from singing?”

As we gather round tables to feast upon the bounty we’ve been given, those tables form communities producing songs and acts of love for those hungry for hope.

Yes, we are to give thanks for jobs, food, shelter, retirement plans and an abundance of other material security.

But we have a greater gift that will last longer, blessed with a faith greater than time itself. The gift of faith for which we give thanks comes by way of those who couldn’t make it this year and now live in our memory.

And where two or three are gathered, we commune not only with God but with the legacies of those who have gone before us, never far from our hearts.

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