I know that we are all feeling exhausted and scared as we continue to navigate through the painful realities of this year in the midst of the surging COVID pandemic, all the economic repercussions that make people’s lives less certain, cries for racial justice in our streets, and a divisive election season that just does not seem to want to end. As we enter the winter months, beleaguered and COVID-fatigued, with the prospect of more “Zoom and Doom,” can we in the midst of all this find something to be thankful for?
One of my favorite hymns for this time a year is by Martin Rinkart: “Now Thank We All Our God.” The power of this song, for me, is the story behind it. Rinkart was an ordained Lutheran minister in the 17th century. At the age of thirty-one he was called to be the pastor in his native town of Eilenberg. He arrived just as the Thirty Years’ War began. As a walled city, Eilenberg became a refuge for political and military fugitives and through the years, waves of pestilence and famine swept through the city. The Rinkart home served as a sanctuary for the afflicted, even though he had difficulty providing food and clothing for his own family. The plague of 1637 was particularly severe. As it surged, Rinkart was the only remaining minister in the city, often conducting as many as forty funeral services a day, including his wife’s. And yet in the middle of all that, he composed one of the most beloved Thanksgiving hymns to date: “Now thank we all our God; with hearts and hands and voices; who wondrous things hath done; in whom this world rejoices. Who from our mother’s arms, has blessed us on our way, with countless gifts of love and still is ours today.”
In this season of Thanksgiving, with all that is happening in our communities and world today, my prayer is that you may find the grace and strength to sing your deepest thanks to God. We do have much to be thankful for as a church as well. This coming year will be our 150th year as a congregation. Our church is planning huge things for 2021: a year where we will “Remember our Past & Reshape our Future.” Perhaps you can take a few moments over this holiday weekend to savor the sacred memories of your past (your faith journey and those who helped form it in you) and let that help you reimagine and reshape your future (your hope in living out God’s desire for you).
Have a Happy, Safe, and Meaningful Thanksgiving,
I'm a follower of Christ, husband, father, friend, pastor, story teller, asker of questions, inspired by biblical narratives, social justice advocate, sports enthusiast, drinker of over priced coffee and general seeker of God's redemptive possibilities. Yeah, that about covers it. (If you discover something else, let me know!)