THANKSGIVING

Singing praise

Thanksgiving is a holiday that is full of dimensions.  School pageants remind children and parents of the days of the pilgrims in the 1600s, and the first days of what was to become the New World colonies.  Many communities celebrate an ecumenical spirit gathering congregations of different denominations to offer thanks for God’s grace and protection.  Of course most Thanksgiving celebrations include a remnant of the harvest festival spirit that hastens back to more agrarian days.  Most of us don’t kill our turkeys, or get our corn from the barn, or have children fetch the pickles from the cellar – these items are well stocked at the neighborhood Kroger, but placing those items on the table is an important reminder of the bounty of our work.  Perhaps the most important dimension of Thanksgiving for most of us is the opportunity to gather our families from across miles to remember our roots, feel the warmth of our love, and be affirmed in our connection to one another while remembering that every blessing is given by the providence of God’s grace.

 

Since Thanksgivings like other holidays comes every year they help us mark life changes and events that have been part of the journey.  We may especially remember the first Thanksgiving after Grandpa passed away, or the first Thanksgiving after our children were married.  I know at our house this will be the first Thanksgiving that our grandchildren will be fully aware of what is going on, and the first year they will be able to “help” in the kitchen. 

 

I can’t help but reflect on what has happened in the lives of friends and loved ones this year and know that this will be a very special Thanksgiving for some in our Tennessee Music Ministry Family.  As noted elsewhere in this newsletter the Milams will spend their first family Thanksgiving in Portugal.  Wayne and Carrie Causey will be celebrating their first Thanksgiving with daughter, Joanna, son-in-law, Nathan, and granddaughter Ayla away in France preparing for the mission field.  I am mindful of Richard and Carol Dickerson, who will be celebrating Thanksgiving with son Russell and daughter, Claire, recognizing how differently the holiday could have been without the miraculous guarding of Claire’s life as the Lord intervened to spare her through a terrifying accident last August.  See the video in the link below:

 

http://www.fox17.com/newsroom/top_stories/wztv_vid_2052.shtml

 

James 1:17 reminds us that “every good and perfect gift comes from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting sands.”  1 Thess 5:18 reminds us to “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

 

The spirit of gratitude and thanksgiving is something that should permeate the attitude of every believers.  As worship leaders we have the wonderful privilege of fostering a spirit of gratitude in our congregations.  Our singing is biblically sound when we sing “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in our hearts to God.” (Col 3:16) Ultimately our gratitude centers in the Giver more than the gift.  While thinking about our families overflows our spirits with love and warmth, it is important that our thanksgiving does not stop with just celebrating how good it is to have our families and homes.  These blessings are gifts from God, and are places where His love can be manifested. 

 

My heart is full of thanks this Thanksgiving as I consider all the Lord has done for us.  It is full as I consider my own family, but also as I consider those with whom I have the humbling privilege to work.  I am full of gratitude as I think about the churches with whom I have opportunity to serve, and as I think about all who are lifting up voices in praise week after week in order that Christ may be known among the nations.  C.S. Lewis reminds me that when we worship we gather up the praise of all creation and give it voice.

 

“Let all things now living a song of thanksgiving

To God the Creator triumphantly raise;

Who fashioned and made us, protected and stayed us,

Who guideth us on to the end of our days.

His banners are o’er us, His light goes before us –

A pillar of fire shining forth in the night –

Till shadows have vanished and darkness is banished,

As forward we travel from light into light.”

             (Katherine K. Davis)

 

Call forth the song of thanks!

Paul

 

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