THERE’S A SIMPLICITY IN THANKSGIVING
LOVED ONES GATHERING TO SHARE THE BLESSINGS OF THE HARVEST
AND TO GIVE THANKS
In our home, we would always go around the table with the same question:
“What are you thankful for this year that you could not have been thankful for last year?”
The answers could be simple, or deeper, delving into spiritual growth or insights.
But it was always a rich sweet time, and as children grew into adults, it could last hours.
Some of you will be in situations where giving thanks is not the custom.
This Norman Rockwell painting always makes me smile.
But whether or not you are blessed to have a rich time of
sharing on Thanksgiving Day, we can have one on this
blog. We can help one other see!
In Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, Emily is allowed to come down from heaven and visit earth invisibly for a day. She sees everybody hurrying — not really seeing, not really engaging with one another. (Personal note: Don’t let Black Friday rob you of fully embracing Thanksgiving Day!) Emily’s words upon leaving earth are forever etched on my heart:
Take me back — up the hill — to my grave. But first: Wait! One more look. Good-by, Good-by, world. Good-by Grover’s Corners…Mama and Papa. Good-by to clocks ticking…and Mama’s sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new ironed dresses and hot baths…and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you. …Do human beings ever realize life while they live it? — Every, every minute?
The stage manager answers: “No.” (Pause) “The saints and the poets – they do maybe, some.”
Here is where we as “saints” (the New Testament word for believers) can play a part in cooperating with the Spirit who is at work within us.
As we grow in the practice of thankfulness, in a mysterious way, more of our heart of flesh is unbound from its encasing stones. Gratitude produces life, joy, and healing.
Each year in my Christmas letter I choose “my book of the year.” This year it will be
One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voscamp. (Many of you love it too.) She tells of how she
came to realize the power of giving thanks, of “realizing life” while she was living it.
She was reading the account of the ten lepers whom Jesus healed. Always before she
thought the moral was simply to be thankful, but this time, when she read the account,
a verse she hadn’t noticed jumped out at her. When the lone leper returns to give
thanks, Jesus said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”
Wait. I trace back. Hadn’t Jesus already completely healed him? Exactly like the other
nine who were cured who hadn’t bothered to return and thank Him. So what does
Jesus mean, “Your faith has made you well”? Had I underinterpreted this passage,
missed some hidden mystery? I slow down and dig…
being made whole, of being, indeed, saved from our
prisons, is related to gratitude. She began to make her
famous list of one thousand gifts – of swaying
sunflowers, of jam spread on heels of homemade
bread, of freckled noses… And one day, months later,
in a friend’s kitchen, she hears:
“You’ve changed.” She turns to me, and I turn to catch the words.
…I don’t say it, but I am thinking she may be right and I had felt it for
months, the maturing, the swelling, the something different that had
begun to happen. But I had thought the re-creation was still embryonic, a
bud of hope. I hadn’t thought it had fully bloomed. I hadn’t thought that
anyone could see the light in the eyes.
I want to keep this week simple, for I know it is a busy one. But minimally, could we
each come on frequently giving thanks for “gifts?” For seeing things simple and profound.
Do this, if nothing else, for homework.
For those of you who have more time, I’d love you to reflect on the words to a wonderful
Thanksgiving Hymn that is full of images of the harvest, and then, if possible, listen to
message by Tim Keller on one of the harvest parables mentioned in the hymn.
We also are going to meet Kim Taylor this week — so jump on any time and affirm Kim!
Next week we begin Advent! Please invite friends to join us for the season.
1. ANY REFLECTIONS ON THE ABOVE?
2. WHAT ARE YOU THANKFUL FOR THIS YEAR THAT YOU COULD NOT HAVE BEEN THANKFUL FOR LAST YEAR?
ALL WEEK — AS OFTEN AS YOU CAN COME ON
3. JUMP ON TO LIST A FEW “GIFTS” WHENEVER YOU CAN. IF YOU NEED A LITTLE
HELP, REFER TO THIS LIST FOR BROADENING YOUR THANKS
- Worred? Let your requests be made known with thanksgiving (See Philippians 4:6)
- Confess sins and give thanks both for His conviction and His tender mercies (Psalm 32)
- Remember times of great mercy when your mouth was filled with laughter (Psalm 126:1-2)
- For any harmony in relationships (Psalm 133)
- For the power of the Word (Psalm 119)
- For all His benefits (Psalm 103)
- For the beauty of the heavens and the earth (Psalm 19)
- When I have trouble sleeping at night, I go through the alphabet listing names or attributes of Jesus (You are Alpha — I’m so thankful You are the beginning and the end, and all things are held together in you; You are Beautiful beyond description — and yet You love me…)
- Share your helps for thanksgiving with us!
4. If you read One Thousand Gifts, share one part you loved and why.
5. IF TIME PERMITS, MEDITATE ON THE LYRICS TO “COME YE THANKFUL COME” AND SHARE ANYTHING THAT QUICKENS YOU, OR HELPS YOU TO PRAY THIS WEEK. THIS HYMN IS SO FILLED WITH SCRIPTURE, IT IS A GREAT ONE TO MEMORIZE.
Come, ye thankful people, come, raise the song of harvest home;
All is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied;
Come to God’s own temple, come, raise the song of harvest home.
All the world is God’s own field, fruit unto His praise to yield;
Wheat and tares together sown unto joy or sorrow grown.
First the blade and then the ear, then the full corn shall appear;
Lord of harvest, grant that we wholesome grain and pure may be.
For the Lord our God shall come, and shall take His harvest home;
From His field shall in that day all offenses purge away,
Giving angels charge at last in the fire the tares to cast;
But the fruitful ears to store in His garner evermore.
Even so, Lord, quickly come, bring Thy final harvest home;
Gather Thou Thy people in, free from sorrow, free from sin,
There, forever purified, in Thy garner to abide;
Come, with all Thine angels come, raise the glorious harvest home.
6. TIM KELLER SERMON:
A. THIS ONE GOES WITH THE ABOVE HYMN BUT IS NOT FREE: Link
B. THIS ONE IS ON WORSHIP AND IS FREE: Link
MEETING OUR BLOGGERS! KIM!
I knew Kim when living in Nebraska and loved her spirit. On a personal note, I remember one time when I was in a group and was seeing things quite differently from everyone else and feeling isolated. She suddenly spoke up and defended my point of view. (I may have been completely wrong — but I appreciated her brave support!) I also have heard, since leaving Nebraska, what a wonderful difference she makes in the children’s Bible club that accompanies a Bible study network that I began with a few other women thirty plus years ago. There are so many kids in that Bible club, and my dear friend told me how wonderful and dedicated Kim is in this ministry.
Here’s Kim’s testimony, followed by a picture of Kim and her husband, two sons, and daughter-in-law (who has also participated on this blog).
I am happily married with two grown sons and a lovely daughter in law. I am blessed to be a homemaker and seasonal business owner. I grew up in a Christian family with two brothers and one sister. I find joy in volunteering at my church and mentoring young women. My passion besides homemaking is decorating and re-purposing used things.
I remember like it was yesterday the email from Dee inviting me to join the Stonecutter study. I wanted to ignore it but God had other plans. I was far too religious to say audibly to God what I was thinking, that if I participated it had better be the answer once and
for all. By this time I had tried so many false answers that my heart had turned concrete. Proverbs 13:12a says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick…” My heart was so sick that when we sang “Victory in Jesus” in church, I felt anger rise up in me for I saw few living in victory over sin.
I joined the study and although I bowed before all the idols listed, I determined to crush the biggest first-my comfort idol (food). Food comforted me when I was afraid, made me feel momentarily happy when I was sad and filled up time when I was bored. It was the sedative I took to ease the pain of life but the more I consumed, the more I needed to use, to cover the consequences my food overuse caused.
Proverbs 13:12 says: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.
God answered my prayers and used this study to fulfill all my longings and heal my heart. He has now become my comfort and happiness. I once believed I must behave myself to get to enter heaven. I now know I have nothing to offer Him. He paid the price in full. I am humbled at His sacrifice and great love for me.
7. How can you affirm Kim?
8. WHAT IS YOUR TAKE-A-WAY FOR THE WEEK?