November 22, 2012
The Lord be with you
Today is Thanksgiving Day in the USA. Many other countries have similar holidays, but typically on some other day of the year. So, for example, Canada celebrates Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October.
For a Christian, every day is a day to give thanks to our Triune God. However, it is fitting that a nation set aside one or more days in a year to express their gratitude to God for his many kindnesses. These mercies exist even in dark days. You just need the spiritual eyes to see them. If we focus on these blessings, our hearts are lifted. The old hymn surely had it right:
All depends on our possessing
God’s abundant grace and blessing,
Though all earthly wealth depart.
They who trust with faith unshaken
By their God are not forsaken
And will keep a dauntless heart.
He who to this day has fed me
And to many joys has led me
Is and ever shall be mine.
He who ever gently schools me,
He who daily guides and rules me
Will remain my help divine.
Many spend their lives in fretting
Over trifles and in getting
Things that have no solid ground.
I shall strive to win a treasure
That will bring me lasting pleasure
And that now is seldom found.
When with sorrows I am stricken,
Hope anew my heart will quicken;
All my longing shall be stilled.
To His loving kindness tender
Soul and body I surrender,
For on God alone I build.
Well He knows what best to grant me;
All the longing hopes that haunt me,
Joy and sorrow, have their day.
I shall doubt His wisdom never;
As God wills, so be it ever;
I commit to Him my way.
If my days on earth He lengthen,
God my weary soul will strengthen;
All my trust to Him I place.
Earthly wealth is not abiding,
Like a stream away is gliding;
Safe I anchor in His grace.
(Lutheran Service Book 732)
As this hymn indicates, it is possible for us to lose our focus on Christ. Our prayers of thanks and petitions for assistance can become self-centered. “God bless me, help me, thank you for helping me, blessing me” or “God bless my loved ones, help my loved ones, thank you for helping my loved ones, blessing my loved ones.” Now it is appropriate to offer such praise and requests, but if that is all our prayers consist of, then they are shallow and self-serving. They are not focused on Christ, even if they are addressed to him. The “star” is really the person offering the prayer. Below is a prayer from The Lutheran Hymnal (page 110) which is an excellent prayer and can guide us into a richer prayer life.
Almighty God, our heavenly Father, we, Thine unworthy servants, do give Thee most humble and hearty thanks for all Thy goodness and loving-kindness to us and to all men. We praise Thee for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life, but above all for Thine inestimable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. And we beseech Thee, give us that due sense of all Thy mercies that our hearts may be unfeignedly thankful and that we may show forth Thy praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives; that, walking before Thee in holiness and righteousness all our days, we may enjoy the testimony of a good conscience and the hope of Thy favor, be sustained and comforted under the troubles of this life, and finally be received into Thine everlasting kingdom; through Thine infinite mercy in Jesus Christ, our Lord.
We offer unto Thee our common supplications for the good estate of Thy Church throughout the world, that it may be so guided and governed by Thy good Spirit that all who profess themselves Christians may be led into the way of truth and hold the faith in unity of spirit, in the bond of peace, and in righteousness of life. Send down upon all ministers of the Gospel and upon all congregations committed to their charge the healthful spirit of Thy grace, and that they may truly please Thee, pour upon them the continual dew of Thy blessing.
Most heartily we beseech Thee with Thy favor to behold* the President and Congress of the United States and all others in authority
[For Use in the British Empire:
C * Her Majesty the Queen of the British Commonwealth, of Nations, the Governor-general and the Prime Minister of our Dominion, as well as the Premier of our Province, and all Governments and Parliaments, and all Judges and Magistrates]
(If the user of this prayer is not a citizen of the British Commonwealth or the United States, those who govern their nations may be appropriately remembered here.)
and so to replenish them with Thy grace that they may always incline to Thy will and walk in Thy way. Prosper all good counsels and all just works that peace and happiness, truth and righteousness, religion and piety, may be established among us throughout all generations.
We humbly entreat Thee also for all sorts and conditions of men, that Thou wouldst be pleased to make Thy ways known unto them, Thy saving health unto all nations.
May it please Thee to preserve all that travel by air, land or water, to help all that are in peril or need, and to satisfy the wants of all Thy creatures.
We also commend to Thy fatherly goodness all those who are in any way afflicted or distressed in mind, body, or estate, that it may please Thee to comfort and relieve them according to their several necessities, giving them patience under their sufferings and a happy issue out of all their afflictions.
(Here special Supplications, Intercessions, and Prayers may be made.)
Hear us, most merciful God, in these our humble requests, which we offer up unto Thee in the name of Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, to whom, with Thee and the Holy Ghost, be all honor and glory, world without end. Amen.
May you have a blessed Thanksgiving Day.
Pastor John Rickert