Vol 8 No. 40 Thanksgiving

Dear Folks,

We arrive at the Thanksgiving season of 2012. Samuel M. Shoemaker once said “Is your Christianity
ancient history or current events?”. I’d like to rephrase that: “Is my giving of thanks in my Christian faith
ancient history or a current event?” I say this because in the following passage I am one of the nine
lepers and not the one who returned and gave praise to God. Here is the passage:

Luke 17:11-19

11 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Sama’ria and Galilee. 12 And as he
entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices
and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show
yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. 15 Then one of them, when he
saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face
at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then said Jesus, “Were not ten
cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this
foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.

I am challenged not only by this passage but by the attitude and thankfulness of others.

Helen Keller, as few remember, was one of the most inspirational authors and speakers of the mid 20 th
century, could neither hear nor see, yet she had this wonderful statement about thankfulness that
partly encourages me yet in some ways puts me to shame…remember as you read “God has given me a
knowledge of his works” that she was blind…while many of God’s works are internal the wonder of
creation is one of God’s greatest gifts.

“For three things I thank God every day of my life: thanks that he has vouchsafed me
knowledge of his works; deep thanks that he has set in my darkness the lamp of faith;
deepest thanks that I have another life to look forward to – a life joyous with light and
flowers and heavenly song.”

G.K. Chesterton makes the topic of Thanksgiving even more complicated for me when he writes “The
test of all happiness is gratitude; and I felt grateful, though I hardly knew to whom.” The truth is I do
know whom to give thanks; I just often fail to do so. Thanksgiving is a time for remembering God’s
faithfulness and for celebrating it. I have three graces/poems that I remember and use in my own
devotions around this time. The grace from the Isle of Lewis is my favourite but the other two have
much to contribute as well.

From the Isle of Lewis
Our God, we are your guests,
And ‘tis You who keeps the generous table.
We thank You.
Amen.

Brigid’s Grace
God bless our food;
God bless our drink.
And keep our homes
And ourselves
In Your embrace,
O God.
Amen.

Shabbat
Bless, O Lord,
This food we are about to eat;
And we pray you, O God,
that it may be good
for our body and soul;
and, if there is any poor creature
hungry or thirsty walking the road,
may God send them in to us
so that we can share the food with them,
just as Christ shares His gifts
with all of us.
Amen.

I should not find Thanksgiving quite so hard as I do, but by the grace of God I am improving. I recall
from an early age my mother reading Psalm 103 as a family psalm and because it has been read for
so many years, it is to some degree hardwired into my soul. It goes at least as far back as my great-
great-grandfather, Moses Tucker (a farmer in Poole, England), and my great-great-grandmother,
Sarah Matilda (Witherington). It was and continues to be read at every major family event, especially
Christmas, and this year when my great nephew hears it, he will be hearing the same reading that has
been read for seven generations. It is as follows, and the first five verses are food for the soul indeed.

Psalm 103

1 A Psalm of David. Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy
name! 2Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, 3 who forgives all your
iniquity, who heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the Pit, who crowns
you with steadfast love and mercy, 5 who satisfies you with good as long as you live so that
your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. 6 The LORD works vindication and justice for all who
are oppressed. 7 He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel. 8 The
LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. 9 He will not
always chide, nor will he keep his anger for ever. 10 He does not deal with us according to
our sins, nor requite us according to our iniquities. 11 For as the heavens are high above
the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is
from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. 13 As a father pities his
children, so the LORD pities those who fear him.14 For he knows our frame; he remembers
that we are dust. 15 As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the
field; 16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more. 17 But
the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon those who fear
him, and his righteousness to children’s children, 18 to those who keep his covenant
and remember to do his commandments. 19 The LORD has established his throne in the
heavens, and his kingdom rules over all. 20 Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty
ones who do his word, hearkening to the voice of his word! 21 Bless the LORD, all his hosts,
his ministers that do his will! 22 Bless the LORD, all his works, in all places of his dominion.
Bless the LORD, O my soul!

 

Warmly,

In Christ,

Jeremy

jbell@cbwc.ca

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