“Give thanks with a joyful heart” is the opening verse to a praise song that I became familiar with through the Cursillo Movement and as Vicar of Good Shepherd Church in Springfield, Missouri. The message of this particular song is that God has given the greatest gift possible to us – Jesus Christ. The song goes on to say that now the poor are rich and the weak are strong because they possess wealth and power in Jesus. The text of the song follows this article.
Giving thanks is a theme that renews itself around this time each year. Soon we will begin preparations for Thanksgiving Day and then Christmas with all its celebration and solemnity. The Psalmist writes, “Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!”(1) These next several weeks can be a whirlwind of rushing and activity or they can be a time of reflection and thanksgiving. How we choose to enter into these next weeks is a personal choice, and far too often I think that we get caught up in the commercialism of the season and forget about grateful thanks. Perhaps that is why the Church, in her wisdom, wants us to celebrate the Season of Advent right in the midst of the rush and bustle.
Thanksgiving Day began with the Plymouth Colonists as feast of celebration and thanks to God for the bountiful harvest. As the story of the first Thanksgiving goes, in spite of the harsh conditions in which they lived, the early English settlers took time to gather in community with native Americans and give thanks with a grateful heart for all that God had given them. It ultimately became a national holiday and is celebrated in the United States and in Canada. Rather than viewing this celebration and its weekend as a holiday, perhaps we should begin to view it as a holyday – a time for worship, thanks, and praise for all of the bounty God has bestowed on each of us.
We truly live in the abundance of God’s love, grace, and mercy. God has given us the greatest gift of all in Jesus Christ. We have been blessed with gifts and talents from the Holy Spirit. We have each other. In my opinion we are truly blessed!
As we begin our preparations for Thanksgiving and Christmas, let’s make sure we take time for reflection and thanksgiving acknowledging the goodness and blessings God has given us. “Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving.” (2)
Father Al Jewson
Give Thanks with a Joyful Heart
Give thanks with a grateful heart,
Give thanks to the Holy One;
Give thanks because He's
given Jesus Christ, His Son.
And now let the weak say, "I am Strong,"
Let the poor say, "I am rich"
Because of what the Lord has
done ... for us. Give thanks.(3)
1. Psalm 95:2, New Revised Standard Version.
2. Psalm 147:7, Ibid.
3. Henry Smith
Rector's Corner posts written by Pastor Rebecca.