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Come ye thankful people, come

by davesandel on November 24th, 2022

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Thanksgiving Day in USA

(click here to listen to or read scriptures for Thanksgiving Day)

Come, ye thankful people, come

Generation after generation praises your works and proclaims your might, O Lord. They speak, they discourse, they declare and they publish the fame of your abundant goodness.

We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing. Even in 1949, when Margaret and I were born, we gathered in cars and drove to church. In Arcola, our Amish friends gathered in carriages and drove to church. The horses likely didn’t know it was Thanksgiving, but their own sensitivity to rhythms told them this was no ordinary Thursday.

At Zion Lutheran Church it felt like a “Casual Friday.” Many of us did not dress like we did on Sunday. Most of us looked forward to getting back home and smelling turkey roasting for a couple more hours. The taste is wonderful, but the scent is sublime. All of us were in church to share thankfulness with each other.

Thank you. Thank YOU! Thank you, Jesus! I learned to say thank you (as well as please and I’m sorry) from Miss Nancy on Romper Room, but on this holiday in church I was barely aware of what I was thankful for. For the turkey? For church being short and sweet? For my claim to the leftmost back seat in our Mercury? That Dad would be with us and not working, at least until 4 pm or so when the cows needed to be milked again?

Sure. All that. And Christmas was getting closer everyday!

But gratitude as an attitude didn’t soak in much when I was a kid. I watched for what would be good for me, grabbed it and then mumbled thank you. I assume my grandparents and parents were more mature, and more generally grateful to God for everything sewn into the fabric of their lives. I mostly think that way now. I’m grateful for that persistent and encircling gratitude.

Years ago I decided to begin prayers with “thank you.” I still do that, sometimes robotically, but even then the words help me remember and re-enter real thankfulness. My Aunt Mary modeled that mindset for me more than anyone, I think. When she retired and returned home to Lincoln from her second floor flat, in black St. Louis near the church where she taught and led the music, she brought a box of books to give to her new neighbors at Friendship Manor.

That book, Prison to Praise by Merlin Carouthers, shouted THANK YOU from every page. I soaked that book up, and I think that’s when, twenty-five years ago or so, I started my own thank you refrain, prayer after prayer after prayer. I’m guessing that even when there’s a thank you involved for a grocery clerk or restaurant server or car mechanic or homeless person on the corner asking for money, whether I’m thanking or being thanked, it smells to God like the incense of prayer.

One of the ten lepers, realizing he had been healed, returned to Jesus, glorifying God in a loud voice, and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.

Jesus didn’t ask anything from the former leper except what he had already given: his faith. Jesus and the leper were two beggars. They were both grateful for God’s absolute grace in their lives. Jesus passed it on like the God-man that he was. And is. And always will be.

Slipped into Prayer

I slipped into prayer,
stopped for a moment
in the quiet,
stopped and allowed God to catch me,
and to welcome that.
No agenda,
no hopes,
just being with myself in God,
and then I begin to notice
the surroundings …
and what is within …
and the connection …
and the love …
and the invitation …
to slip into prayer,
to slip into myself in God. – Clarence Heller

(Sirach 50, Psalm 145, 1 Corinthians 1, 1 Thessalonians 5, Luke 17)

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