Today’s verses is what my New Testament seminary professor would call a “rich feast” of scripture. Rather than picking out just one scripture passage from the set of four, I have chosen to use all four, moving from a general theme of thanksgiving to a specific focus of what is, well, the focus of the day.
“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself a ransom for all
—this was attested at the right time. For this I was appointed a herald and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.” (I Timothy 2:1-7)
In any given year, whether it be a major election year or an off-year when smaller elections are held, critique and commentary is made. Such-and-such party believes and promotes this while another party zealously supports that; this politician would do one thing and another politician would do that thing. Now, you all know I have no patience or interest in politicians. But what I do appreciate that each of them, in their own way, tries to promote order and a smoothly running country. The Lord knows that I do not strongly feel that anyone of them is suggesting ways and means that I can unabashedly approve of. But I appreciate and am thankful they all, beneath it all, want a smoothly running country, and quiet and peaceable lives for the citizenry. And I can give thanks for that this day.
“When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us, and we rejoiced.
Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like the watercourses in the Negeb.
May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy.
Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves.” (Psalm 126)
I tend to rely on the Lord, and trust that the Lord will provide for me. Yes, there have been lean years, years that I was not sure we would make “ends meet”; and times when the ends did not meet and we had to live in that gap. But the Lord brought us through all that, and here we are where and when the ends not only meet, but sometimes overlap! My tears have turned to shouts of joy, and I “carry home” the sheaves that provide for our family. It is good to recognize and celebrate this at Thanksgiving.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:25-33)
I will tell you plainly, beloved reader, this year my health has taken a further decline. Food does not hold the same appeal to me as it used to. This is both a sad thing and a good thing. Sad, because . . . well . . . because . . . I remember the times that food has been a comfort and a time of celebration and gathering of family and friends. Food means fellowship and communion with others. And while I enjoy gathering with family and friends, I focus more on just the people around the table than the food that is shared with them. And being the chief cook, my lack of interest in food makes food preparation more of a trial than a joy.
But, I have found new joy in clothing. Being a smaller me means new clothes, color combinations and styles that bring joy to my heart. I feel like a “lily of the field” and truly feel that God has clothed me as such. So that is where my joy lies this year.
Yes, I am going to prepare a full thanksgiving meal; but it will be a gift to my family instead of a time for me to feed my own body. And I am thankful that I can still do that for them.
“Do not fear, O soil; be glad and rejoice, for the Lord has done great things!
Do not fear, you animals of the field, for the pastures of the wilderness are green; the tree bears its fruit, the fig tree and vine give their full yield.
O children of Zion, be glad and rejoice in the Lord your God; for he has given the early rain for your vindication, he has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the later rain, as before.
The threshing floors shall be full of grain, the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.
I will repay you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent against you.
You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame.
You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I, the Lord, am your God and there is no other.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.” (Joel 2:21-27)
This time of the year – Thanksgiving that leads into Advent and Christmas, and into the New Year – is a time of food and fellowship. That we have both in abundance gives raise to our thanksgiving and praise of and to God. That we have enough food, and family and friends to share it with gives color and meaning to these times. We share with one another, and rejoice that we have much to share and have a share in much. Our Lord God has undertaken for us and has provided for us. Yes, there is want and need. And yes, there may be people who still have want and need. But at this time of the year, folks are more likely to see the need and be moved to fill it. The season itself takes hold and people of all faiths and beliefs come together to give aid to those in need. Love that has its roots in the Christian beliefs Jesus taught seems to come over all people. And that too is worthy of celebration.
May you, beloved reader, feel the care and compassion that finds its beginnings in God’s love for us. May you be the recipient of that love, care and compassion. And may you share that love, care and compassion with others, sharing its abundance to all in need. Selah!