Giving Thanks!

1 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever!
Psalm 118:1

It is often said to ministers and those who study theology, such as yourselves, to be prepared to be open to the many faces and acts of God in scripture as it relates to the full extremes of human emotions and experiences. Being aware of this is especially so during the season of Lent and as we prepare to enter Holy Week and towards the events of Good Friday. And the reasons are clear why and it is because we in the church have been reminded time and time again that Lent is a serious time of self-reflection/evaluation and repentance. So it may come as a surprise, at least for those who have felt being glum and sullen are appropriate attitudes to be in, after-all, they fit in with what Lent is supposedly all about, that this wonderful Psalm of joyous thanksgiving pops up as we enter into Holy Week. The Psalmist points out that repentance and turning one’s life around to God ‘the ground of all being’ is indeed a joyous act. Indeed, when God is the very foundation of your life surely “nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ”. (Romans 8:28.) And thus we can say with the Psalmist: O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever!

So here is a simple challenge for you this week my friends. What are some things, big or small, you could be thankful for? And, while you are at it, you might like to think of the people you could be thankful for. It could be the local postman who always comes, rain, hail or shine and greets you with a smile on his/her face and simple words of greeting. It may be a neighbour whom you’ve never spoken with in all the time you have lived where you are, yet mows your front lawn whenever he mows his or brings in your rubbish bins when you are not home. It could be a member of this congregation whose faith and commitment to living the way of Jesus inspires your own faith. Should you choose to do this simple exercise, be prepared to see the faces and the acts of God as they relate to your own life, however, be also prepared to be surprised at the people and the things you may have taken for granted.

I conclude with words from a famous hymn by Martin Rinkart (1586-1649). There is a moving story behind it and I’m hoping we will sing it on Sunday. The words express a deep sense of gratitude and thanksgiving to God despite the storms of life. I wonder if similar words would have been on Jesus’ lips as Good Friday approached.

Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
who wondrous things hath done, in whom his world rejoices;
who from our mother’s arms hath blessed us on our way
with countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
with ever-joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us;
and keep us in his grace, and guide us when perplexed,
and free us from all ills in this world and the next.

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given,
the Son, and Holy Ghost, supreme in highest heaven,
the one eternal God, whom earth and heaven adore;
for thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.

The Lord be with you.