Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Rule of Three

I know Thanksgiving is done, and people have moved on to all things Christmas.

Barefoot Hippie Girl is bucking the system and is still stuck on the thought of Thanksgiving. I have one more Thanksgiving post for you. A last hurrah, if you will.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, "in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."

In everything. Not necessarily for everything. What is your heart attitude in every situation?

Frankly, I am not thankful my sister in law died two weeks ago. I can be thankful in this hard time though-for God's faithfulness and goodness.

This verse actually reminds me of a familiar Thanksgiving hymn, Now Thank We All Our God.

Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and bless├Ęd peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And free us from all ills, in this world and the next!

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given;
The Son and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven;
The one eternal God, whom earth and Heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.

We read these lyrics and sing this hymn, and assume this hymn was written in prosperous times. Times of peace and plenty, like we are experiencing today in the United States. 

Times when it is easy to be thankful for food, because your pantry is overflowing. Times when it is easy to be thankful for good health, because no one is sick. Times when it is easy to be thankful for houses, cars, appliances, books, music, etc-because we are surrounded on every side by countless gifts of love. 

This Thanksgiving hymn was not written in a time of great prosperity. It was written in a time of great loss. Of barely cemented peace. Of deprivation.

Martin Rinkart, a Lu­ther­an min­is­ter, was in Eil­en­burg, Sax­o­ny, dur­ing the Thir­ty Years’ War. The walled ci­ty of Eil­en­burg saw a stea­dy stream of re­fu­gees pour through its gates. The Swed­ish ar­my sur­round­ed the ci­ty, and fa­mine and plague were ramp­ant. Eight hund­red homes were de­stroyed, and peo­ple were dying. Do­zens of fun­er­als were conducted dai­ly.  Rink­art was the on­ly pastor left—doing 50 fun­er­als a day. 

When the Swedes de­mand­ed a huge ran­som, Rink­art left the safe­ty of the walls to plead for mer­cy. The Swed­ish com­mand­er, im­pressed by his faith and cour­age, low­ered his de­mands. Soon af­ter­ward, the Thir­ty Years’ War end­ed, and Rinkart wrote this hymn in 1636, for a grand cel­e­bra­tion ser­vice. 

It is a test­a­ment to his faith that, af­ter such mis­e­ry, he was able to write a hymn of abid­ing trust and gra­ti­tude to­ward God.

This is a similar attitude to Job's. "He gives and takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord."

It is easy to be thankful when everything is going well. How thankful are we when our lives are falling down around our ears? When surrounded by death, need, suffering and trials?

Martin was confident in God's bounteous generosity, eternal reign, peace and guidance. 

I once again think, what is my heart like as I go through deep waters? What do I write in trials, or even on the other side? Does my faith in the Faithful God remain unshaken?

I said it is easy to be thankful in prosperity, but am I? Truly thankful? Am I content, or am I always hoping and striving for the next thing? Am I more focused on what I don't have and what I need, than all I do have in Christ?

Abraham Lincoln is the President who set aside the first National Thanksgiving Day-aside from the Pilgrims. He is the man who set the precedent for our modern Thanksgiving Day. Again, thanksgiving in the midst of the costliest war our country has been involved in. I draw your attention to his thanksgiving proclamation. Notice the highlighted part. (even if you don't want to read the rest)

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they 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, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them 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.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

I think I need to cultivate an attitude of gratefulness. Day in-day out. Good circumstances or bad. Plenty and not so plenty.

Because, the unchangeable factor day in-day out, good and bad, is our unchangeable God. He is always faithful. Always good. Always merciful.

My challenge to myself, (you all probably don't need a challenge) is to be thankful in the Christmas season. Not to relegate that thankfulness to November, and it's all done now. Keep that thankful spirit all buffed and shiny through the uber materialistic/me month of December.

It's keeping good company...Martin Rinkart, Job, Abraham Lincoln. 

Who's with me?