O give thanks to the Lord, call on his name,
make known his deeds among the peoples.
Sing to him, sing praises to him,
tell of all his wonderful works.
1 Chronicles 16:8-9
For millennia, people traveled the world without Google Maps or even physical maps as we know them. Wayfinding refers to a class of ancient arts that allowed our ancestors to navigate seemingly impossible expanses. Today, when we find ourselves disoriented or unsure where God is leading next, we too can pause, assess and read the signs to find our own way forward. We begin by remembering all God has brought us through to reach this point. [hear sermon audio]
This week, take some time to go deeper. Use these scriptures and questions to reflect on where God is leading you.
Give thanks today for Sarah Hale. As we gather to gorge on turkey, stuffing, veggies, and pie (and in my case pie and pie and pie), we usually pay some homage to the 1621 feast of the Plymouth settlers and Wampanoag. But Thanksgiving didn’t become a regular holiday nationwide until 1863. It was due largely to the efforts of Sarah Hale. A publisher and tastemaker in the line of Oprah Winfrey, Hale cajoled countless governors, congressmen, and state officials to promote the establishment of a day of thanksgiving. She harangued William Seward into her cause and wrote to more than one sitting president; finally getting through to Abraham Lincoln.
Why go to all the trouble? Because in the midst of a moment of division and strife, Hale felt a day of Thanksgiving would help the nation remember who we are. In being grateful, we focus on the things that are most important to us. Gratitude is a mirror of our hearts. In asking for a “Great American Festival of Thanksgiving” Hale also calls it the “Union Festival of America” and highlights the need for unity and permenance. This is in the middle of the Civil War; unity and permenance must have felt in short supply. Yet Hale presses for a day when we would celebrate these things, precicely because we needed to remember how important they are.
So this Thanksgiving, raise a glass (or piece of pie) for Sarah Hale. And as your family lists off the things you are grateful for, as what that says about what is most imporant for you. Perhaps, even take as part of your prayers, Lincoln’s words from the Thanksgiving Proclamation:
It has seemed to me fit and proper that [gifts of peace and prosparity] should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, … that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
I thank my God every time I mention you in my prayers. I’m thankful for all of you every time I pray, and it’s always a prayer full of joy.
I’m sure about this: the one who started a good work in you will stay with you to complete the job by the day of Christ Jesus. I have good reason to think this way about all of you because I keep you in my heart.
God is my witness that I feel affection for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus.
This is my prayer: that your love might become even more and more rich with knowledge and all kinds of insight. I pray this so that you will be able to decide what really matters and so you will be sincere and blameless on the day of Christ. I pray that you will then be filled with the fruit of righteousness, which comes from Jesus Christ, in order to give glory and praise to God.
Most important, live together in a manner worthy of Christ’s gospel. Do this, whether I come and see you or I’m absent and hear about you. Do this so that you stand firm, united in one spirit and mind as you struggle together to remain faithful to the gospel.
God has generously granted you the privilege, not only of believing in Christ but also of suffering for Christ’s sake. You are having the same struggle that you saw
meface and now hear that I’m still facing.
-Philippians 1 (selected)
Living with other people is uncomfortable. One person talks too loud, or asks too many questions, or just does that thing that grates on our very last nerve. Yet we are wired to need each other. Even our faith is incomplete without the fellowship of others. Only when we learn to be grateful everyone– even for those who make us uncomfortable– are we able to approach others with the love of Christ. [hear sermon audio]
This week, take some time to go deeper. Use these scriptures and questions to reflect on your own life and community.