Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from an Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Theme: Thanksgiving Special
Volume 6 No. 385 November 22, 2016
III. Supplement: Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Hymn
Come, 'you thankful people,' and let us praise the Father,'
who in His goodness' created heaven and earth,'
and all that is in them,' endowing us His creatures,' with reason to worship Him,'
who in His great mercy and love for us His children.* has granted us salvation.
Lord, in your mercy....

Come, you thankful people,' and let us praise the only-begotten Son,'
who for our sakes did clothe Himself in mortal nature,'
deigning to suffer and die for us,'
trampling down death and raising us with Himself,'
who in His great mercy and love for us His children,' has granted us salvation.
Lord, in your mercy....

Come, you thankful people,' and let us praise the Holy Spirit,'
who descended upon the Apostles,' making them fishers of men,'
through whom the earth has received,' the knowledge of the Holy Trinity,'
who in His great' mercy and love for us His children,' has granted us salvation
Lord, in your mercy.... .

+ + +

Come, you thankful people,
and let us praise the Holy and consubtantial Trinity,
to whom belongeth worship,
to whom belongeth praise, to whom belongeth glory,
to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit
now and always and unto the ages of ages.


What's the Best Thanks to Give?

by Deborah J. Thompson

At this time of year, Thanksgiving is on most of our minds. Some of us are making travel arrangements, others are preparing for guests to arrive. We are busy planning meals, shopping, cooking and cleaning. And in the harried frenzy that surrounds the holiday season, we sometimes forget the purpose of it all - to give thanks.

Sure, before our Thanksgiving meal, most of us will stop for a moment and says "thanks"--for our family, our food, our blessings. But isn't this season about more than a momentary acknowledgement of our immediate circumstances? Isn't it about recognizing ALL the assistance, support and favor that we have been shown along the way?

Perhaps there was a special teacher in your life that encouraged you to go to college, or made you feel that you could achieve your vocational dreams. Or what about that first boss who taught you how to be a good leader? Or the coach that showed you the importance of discipline and being a part of a team? Have you ever thanked the people who made a significant contribution to your life?

And let's not forget our parents who one way or another, helped to shape us into the people that we have become. Maybe they weren't perfect, but they probably did the best they knew how to do as they were learning to cope with their own baggage. And we often learn as much from our mistakes and the mistakes of others, as we do from the successes.

Thanksgiving is also a difficult time for many people. The losses in our lives seemed magnified somehow as we struggle to be grateful even with our grief. But I find it helpful to ask myself this question--Would I trade the pain I feel at their loss, for never having had the experience of knowing my loved ones? And I have to answer honestly that I am truly grateful to have had them in my life and I would do it all over again, even if I knew that I would one day have to grieve their passing.

The recession is also causing many of us to suffer financial hardship this year. And it is tough to be thankful when we are worried about putting food on our table or a roof over our heads. But troubles are transitory—they don't last forever. So we can be grateful for the blessings of the past and the ones yet to come. And if we take time to look around us, there is always something for which to be thankful—health, love, hope, the kindness of others—we all have something that is going right for us at any given time. We just have to open our minds to see the good that exists, even in the midst of the strife.

So What's the Best Thanks to Give this year?

I believe it is the thanks that comes from taking an inventory of our lives and seeing with fresh eyes how all the events have brought us to this moment in time.

  • Being grateful for the people and the lessons that have taught us so much and seeing God's hand at work through those who have crossed our paths.
  • Learning to live in the present and recognizing the good that surrounds us even when we are experiencing a momentary setback.
  • Looking back on the most difficult times in our lives and seeing the positive results of our rising above those painful circumstances.

And I believe that sometimes, the "best" thanks of all is the confident assurance through faith and hope, that life holds many more blessings yet to be discovered.

So this Thanksgiving, before we gather around our tables to share turkey, dressing and cranberry sauce; let's take time to give thanks for more than the present. Let's also give thanks for our yesterdays and for our tomorrows. Reach out to thank those who have significantly impacted our lives. Write, call or even just lift up a prayer for them. They may need to hear, at this very moment, that they made a difference in someone else's life.

And if they have passed on, we can always write down our experiences and thank them anyway. I believe they will get the message. And if they happen to be seated with you at your table, don't let this opportunity to tell them what they mean to you, pass you by. You'll never regret telling the people you love how you feel, but you'll likely regret it if you don't.

As we gather together this holiday season with those we love and with the memories of those who are not with us, let's be grateful for the most wonderful blessing of all - one another's love.

Happy Thanksgiving!

About The Author:

Deborah J. Thompson is a writer, artist and Stephen Minister. Her articles are published by and "The Fish" family of Christian radio station websites around the country. She shares "Reflections" on Life and Relationships on her website, And she is working on her first book, Your Life, Your Choice, which gives 5 simple steps to harness the power of your choices and bring more Love, Joy and Peace into your life.


Five Ways to Teach Your Kids to be Grateful

by Carrie Dedrick

It is so easy to take what we have for granted. You might not even think about how blessed you are to have food in the pantry and shoes on your feet. The warm coat that we need in the wintertime isn't available for many people. Heat in the house isn't an option either.

Your children naturally fall into this pattern of forgetting to be grateful as well. They probably don't worry about where their next meal will come from or if they will be able to attend school tomorrow, but that is not the reality for millions of children around the world.

Teaching your children to be grateful for the blessings in their lives is an important lesson for all ages. Chances are, you sometimes need the reminder too! Here are five ways to incorporate lessons of gratitude in your family.

1. Sponsor a child in poverty

Sponsoring a child is a great way to understand the day-to-day life of the poor and help your children to appreciate what they have. Many children waiting for a sponsor are facing hunger, disease, illiteracy, abuse and the lack of opportunities.

If you sponsor a child, your children will be able exchange letters and photographs with your sponsored child and will begin to understand what his or her life is like in a developing country. They will also be giving the sponsored child an opportunity to receive food and clean water, medical care, educational assistance and much more. Some child sponsorship programs, like Compassion International, also provide opportunities for children to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. As the relationship between your children and the sponsored child grows, they will learn to be grateful for what they have, and also become more compassionate toward those with less.

2. Take a family mission trip

Mission trips aren't just for adults. Intergenerational mission trips provide opportunities for families to travel to poverty-stricken areas together.

It is not even necessary to leave the country. The United States has poor areas that provide opportunities to serve. More than likely, there is a soup kitchen, food pantry, or free clothing center in your own community that could use your family's help with serving food, organizing donations, or just lending a hand to keep the facilities neat.

Just because it's a day mission trip doesn't mean it doesn't count! Doing the Lord's work will cultivate an attitude of gratefulness among your children, regardless of the length of the trip.

3. Fast as a family

There are different methods of fasting, and your family can use one or all of them as you teach your children gratefulness. The obvious fasting method would be to fast for a whole day. This is something that you can do with older (high school) children, but not recommended for families of young children.

But families with children of any age can fast one meal or fast from their regular foods. If your children are very small and unable to miss a meal, try eating only rice and beans for lunch or dinner. This is common practice in many parts of the world, and it provides the rare opportunity for your children to "taste" an experience. Remember to gather around the table and pray for those who live without enough food as you fast. You can even pick a day or meal to fast each week or each month. Continued fasting will help to remind your children of the many gifts they have been given.

4. Organize and complete a service project

If your children are hands-on learners, a service project is the perfect opportunity to teach your children gratitude. This can encompass a wide variety of actions, but one idea would be to start a clothing, food, book, or toy drive at your church. Your children can help promote the drive by making posters, and then follow through with the project by collecting the items and delivering them to the local collection facility (such as the food bank or Salvation Army).

Your children will be able to see the process of how their project helped other people, from its planning stages to its completion.

5. Go camping

This may sound like a strange addition to an article about teaching gratefulness, but it works. Pitch a tent (the backyard will do if your children are young), and tell your children that you will be living one night as refugees. Follow through with this by packing only the bare minimum… No materials for s'mores, no lighter fluid to start a fire.

If your children are mature enough to take the exercise to the next level, tell them that they can only bring three supplies with them from home, like many refugees are able to do. You can even get creative by giving specific details to your children about the situation that they are in. For example, tell your daughter, "You have an injured leg; you are only able to walk by leaning on another person." Tell your son, "You have hearing loss from an explosion that occurred near your village. You can only communicate without speaking."

Your night as a refugee won't be easy, but it will be a real example of how hard life is for refugees. It will teach your children gratitude for their own life and live in their memories for years to come.

Written by Carrie Dedrick, Family Editor for

Compassion International is a Christian organization that focuses on releasing children in poverty from their spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and enabling them to become responsible and fulfilled Christian adults.


7 Astonishing Reasons to be Thankful When You're Waiting

by Jeff Robinson

I don't like to wait. No, let's be completely forthright: I despise waiting. There is a certain highway in the city where I live that is notorious for traffic that is snarled for several hours on both sides of rush hour: I avoid it like cream of broccoli soup. Every Sunday morning, there are certain members of my family who move at the speed of a glacier in getting ready for worship, and I'm convinced they make less haste on the days I have to preach. They make me wait, and I don't like it.

I realize that I am not alone in this. Fallen humans categorically do not like to wait. We want instant gratification. We want life's knottiest dilemmas solved in a half hour or so. Why is it so hard for sons of Adam to wait? Conventional wisdom says doing absolutely nothing should be easy for us, but it is not.

Over the years, I have learned that waiting on the Lord one of the most potentially sanctifying (and necessary) aspects of the Christian life. It is one of those glorious "gospel paradoxes" that makes us say with the prophet, "O Lord, your ways are higher than our ways, your thoughts higher than our thoughts." We pray in hope, and then we wait on the Lord to answer. A Christian man prays for a job so that he can provide for his family as God has commanded, and then he waits. A mother prays that God will draw her wayward son to himself unto salvation, and then she waits. We pray that God will make our future path clear, and we wait. We read Matthew 6:34 for a thousandth time for comfort.

The Puritans understood this reality well and developed something of a doctrine of waiting; they referred to it as being in "God's school of waiting." William Carey understood it well. He spent many years on the mission field before seeing his first convert. Of greater import, the inspired writers understood it well: Psalm 27:14, "Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!"

As difficult as it can be, waiting builds spiritual muscles in a unique manner. My sinful impatience notwithstanding, Isaiah makes this truth clear: "But they who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount with wings as eagles, they shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not faint." What a glorious promise! And yet, our discontented hearts find it difficult to wait.

Yet waiting on the Lord many good things for us. It:

1. Causes us to pray without ceasing.

We are needy and He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He is always faithful and the outcome of our waiting proves Him wholly true.

2. Instills in us a clearer understanding that we are creatures who are absolutely dependent upon our Creator.

Though our sinful hearts crave omniscience and omnipotence, we possess neither, and waiting helps us to focus on that reality.

3. Increases our faith.

After all, does not the writer of Hebrews define faith as "the conviction of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen?" (Heb. 11:1). We wait and God works.

4. Transfers the doctrine of God's absolute sovereignty from the speculative realm to the practical.

In waiting, we actually experience God's Lordship in an intimate way.

5. Grounds our future in a certain hope.

This is Paul's point in Romans 8:24–25, "Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience." A glorious by-product of this is that it instills patience, that most elusive of spiritual virtues, in us.

6. Reminds us that we live between the times.

When Jesus returns, the not yet will collapse into the already, and there will be no more waiting for an answer to desperate prayers. The Kingdom will be consummated, and Jesus will set everything right. Until then, we pray and wait and are sanctified by God's wise process.

7. Stamps eternity on our eyeballs.

When we bring urgent petitions before the Lord, we wait with expectancy, and the city of man in which we live fades in importance, and we begin to realize that the city of God is primary. As Jonathan Edwards prayed, "O Lord, stamp eternity on my eyeballs." Waiting helps to do that. It prioritizes the eternal over the temporal in accord with 2 Cor. 4:18, "…as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."

Source: Today's Topical Bible Study, Founders Ministries Blog

The Trouble with Thanksgiving Gratitude

By Kira M. Newman

Feeling forced to say "thanks" at Thanksgiving dinner? Here are four exercises to help get the gratefulness going.

"What are you grateful for?"

For the shy adult or the grumpy teen, expressing gratitude around the Thanksgiving table can seem awkward and trite. Yet it's basically compulsory - saying "nothing" or "I don't know" when it's our turn to speak won't endear us to our family members. We end up saying the same thing we do every year, everyone smiles, and then it's Aunt Edna's turn.

According to research, though, feeling socially pressured to perform a certain happiness practice means it's less fitting for us. Psychologists Sonja Lyubomirsky and Ken Sheldon suggest that the best happiness practices are ones we choose, not ones we feel forced into based on our circumstances. This can undermine "self-determined motivation," the healthy drive that springs from our authentic interests and values.

"Even though I've advocated a number of evidence-based practices, I'm actually moving away from prescribing specific practices and exercises because it can lead to what I am calling ‘to-do list' gratitude or ‘check-list' gratitude," says pioneering gratitude researcher Robert Emmons. "Practicing gratitude becomes a burden rather than a blessing, making life heavier rather than lighter."

What's more, Thanksgiving declarations of gratitude tend to be brief - along the lines of "I'm grateful for my family and my health." But broad statements of gratitude might not be as effective as detailed ones, research suggests.

An unpublished University of Southern California study cited in Emmons's book, Gratitude Works!, found that writing one sentence about five things we're grateful for is less beneficial than writing five sentences about one thing we're grateful for. After ten weeks of gratitude journaling, the group who wrote in more detail about one thing each time felt less tired, sad, and lethargic and more alert, happy, excited, and elated than the less-detailed group.

Even those of us with the best intentions may struggle. As an introvert, I always feel put on the spot during my family's Thanksgiving gratitude ritual, even though cultivating gratitude is important to me. And many of us may yearn to feel deep gratitude but can't conjure it up on command.

This is not to say that we should jettison our Thanksgiving gratitude rituals. In fact, experts believe that it's the repeated practice of gratitude - even when we don't feel grateful - that will eventually lead to a more enduring attitude of gratitude.

"If you go through grateful motions, the emotion of gratitude should be triggered," writes Emmons in "10 Ways to Become More Grateful."

So what would a no-pressure Thanksgiving look like, one that tries to encourage everyone - even the inarticulate, the shy, the grumpy, and the alienated - to safely express their thanks? What "grateful motions" might feel less forced and more genuine? Here are some suggestions.

1. Give people a chance to think before they thank

Have a family member lead everyone in a short gratitude meditation before the Thanksgiving meal, like this one from Jack Kornfield's book, The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace.

"Gratitude is a gracious acknowledgment of all that sustains us, a bow to our blessings, great and small, an appreciation of the moments of good fortune that sustain our life every day," writes Kornfield. His meditation asks you to think of the environment and the people who make your life possible:

With gratitude I remember the people, animals, plants, insects, creatures of the sky and sea, air and water, fire and earth, all whose joyful exertion blesses my life every day. With gratitude I remember the care and labor of a thousand generations of elders and ancestors who came before me.

For some people, the quiet contemplation of gratefulness might make for a solid first step - and help them to think of something concrete to say in front of family and friends!

2. Ask guests to imagine themselves alone at the table

There is an exercise called "Mental Subtraction of Relationships" that asks you to think about what your life might have been like had you never met someone special. As part of the pre-dinner meditation, you might ask guests to imagine themselves without anyone to spend Thanksgiving with. Here's how to do it, adapted from Greater Good in Action, which provides "science-tested practices for a meaningful life":

1. Take a moment to think about one person at the table.

2. Think back to where and how you met this person. If he or she is a family member, try to recall your first memories.

3. Think about all of the possible events and decisions - large and small - that could have prevented you from meeting this person, or kept him or her from your life.

4. Imagine what your life would be like now if events had unfolded differently and you had never met this person, or if they had left your life at some earlier point. Bring to mind some of the joys and benefits you have enjoyed as a result of this relationship - and consider how you would feel if you were denied all of them.

5. Shift your focus to remind yourself that you did actually meet this person and reflect upon the benefits this relationship has brought you. Now that you have considered how things might have turned out differently, appreciate that these benefits were not inevitable in your life. Allow yourself to feel grateful that things happened as they did and this person is now in your life.

After imagining a solitary Thanksgiving, opening your eyes to a table full of smiling faces can inspire gratitude.

3. Write letters to each other

In advance of dinner, ask your Thanksgiving guests to write short gratitude letters to read at the table. A gratitude letter expresses appreciation for someone - a relative, friend, teacher, or colleague - who made an impact on your life but hasn't been properly thanked. The letter can detail what they did, why you feel thankful, and how your life is different today:

1. Write as though you are addressing this person directly ("Dear ______")

2. Don't worry about perfect grammar or spelling.

3. Describe in specific terms what this person did, why you are grateful to this person, and how this person's behavior affected your life. Try to be as concrete as possible.

4. Describe what you are doing in your life now and how you often remember his or her efforts.

5. Try to keep your letter to roughly one page (~300 words).

Research shows that reading gratitude letters produces a big happiness boost. The feelings of warmth and connection may be strong enough to outweigh any lingering shyness, and expressing gratitude for a person, rather than health or food, may feel more natural.

4. After dinner, take a walk - then give thanks over dessert

My family has always had a ritual of walking after dinner - but before the apple pie. Not only does the walk aid digestion, but it can reveal vibrant fall foliage, elegant architecture, and friendly faces. All of these things are potential sources of ongoing gratitude - and might help prime guests to give concrete thanks.

To truly appreciate what you see on your walk, take a moment to pause over each new and beautiful sight. Point it out to your family members, so they too can join in the mindful appreciation. Try to think about why each sight is pleasurable to you; perhaps the piles of golden leaves remind you of time spent playing as a kid. This technique is called a "Savoring Walk."

If we're inspired to keep up these gratitude practices, our view of gratitude may change - from a Thanksgiving chore to a meaningful way of thinking year-round. Then, "What are you grateful for?" will no longer be such a tricky question to answer.

About The Author

Kira M. Newman is a course assistant for the Greater Good Science Center's "Science of Happiness" course and a digital journalist who has been published in outlets including the Huffington Post and She is also the creator of The Year of Happy, a year-long course in the science of happiness.

Source: Greater Good in Action, University of California - Berkeley

5 Tips to Survive (& Thrive) amidst Thanksgiving Chaos

by Kelly Balarie

We are all gathered around the table. I can't keep my eyes off the pumpkin pie, the mashed potatoes, and the creamed corn. I want to devour it all. My mouth is watering. As familiar family faces fade into the background, I develop a personal action plan of what I'll eat, how fast I’ll eat it and when to fill up my plate again.

I hear distant sounds, words and discussions, but I am mesmerized by utter gratefulness as I take it all in - the pure beauty of the Thanksgiving spread set so perfectly on the table. Surely, God knew what he was doing when he gave us food; it truly embodies one of the greatest things we have to be grateful for.

But, as I smile, as I look, as I sit, deafening sounds quickly pull me out of my delightful daydream, and throw me back into reality. A storm is brewing. Someone is annoyed. Agitated. Frustrated.

It could be one of many things - someone got ticked off, another couldn't get drinks fast enough, a rude piercing reply was launched or a digging question was fired over the table. Truly, it could be anything.

Who knows the exact reason why? But, all that mattered to me is that my moment was lost. My joy was stolen. Agitation filled me. Disappointment gripped me. Despite my best efforts to make this Thanksgiving great, someone messed it up. Again.

Why can't we give thanks in peace? Why can't we all get along? Why does it feel that we have to endure Thanksgiving rather than enjoy it?

This is should be a time of thankfulness - of gladness - not a time of madness. Not a time to push buttons. Not a time to get flustered.

Why do I go into Thanksgiving hoping that it will be a dream holiday, only to come face-to-face with a nightmare situation?

Somehow we idealize Thanksgiving and Christmas. We turn them into perfect little gems of days that should only deliver sparkle, joy and peace. We think that, because we control the preparations, the decorations and conversations, everyone should meet our expectations. We hold on to these expectations with such strength that they crush under the pressure. And, this is when the true Thanksgiving weight hits us. We feel bloated with disappointment.

I guess I have come to realize that the bounty is not all about me. If we are going to truly be thankful for the bounty of the Lord, we have to be thankful for who the Lord has created. He created us all with strengths and weaknesses. It can be so hard to do. It can be so overwhelming when a storm blows in, threatening the day, but - if we trust the Lord - we can trust him to work things out.

God calls us to enjoy this day, rather than endure it. He calls us to leave perfect in the kitchen, and embrace imperfect at the table, so that expectations don't leave us hiding in the bathroom with tears.

5 Tips to Survive Thanksgiving Chaos:

1. Seek to embrace verses erase the person in need.

Jesus ran to the people in need. His heart was inclined to those in pain. He didn't demand what he needed, but he gave what others did.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

We are all chief sinners. But, in so many ways, we stand as chief judge. God is faithful to forgive us. With this, on Thanksgiving Day, let's choose to sit at the foot of the cross. Let's sit as saved sinners, basking in the glory of Him who is high and lifted up.

When we sit in this position, suddenly, we sit with more compassion for the meaningless jabs, frustrating arguments and aggravating words. We sit knowing that we are the same. We sit grateful for the one who paid it all. Who loved despite our actions.

Then, we find we have greater compassion and a heart to love.

2. Be truly thankful - for both the yummy and the yucky of life.

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. (Phil. 4:12)

True thankfulness sees both abundance and scarcity and gives thanks. Why? Because both are from the Lord. Both have a purpose. Both are meant to refine.

We can rest in the truth that God has good plans (Ps. 40:5). We can rest in knowing his ways are greater than ours (Is. 55:8-9). We can rest because the Lord promises to work for our good through trials (Ro. 5:4). We will be refined, refreshed and renewed.

When we feel Thanksgiving Day is only giving us yucky food, we can choose to see the great silverware, the great centerpiece and the great God who is at the center of it all.

3. A storm may brew, but know God will bring you through.

For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. (Is. 41:13)

When we are weak, the power of Christ sits upon us. In the stormy moments, we can run into his arms, feel his embrace and let him recharge us with his love. It can be hard to remember in the moment, but God stands ready to help us. It's ok to feel weak, but it's not ok to feel ruined when God stands ready to help.

Call out to God. He is famous for rescuing and helping in a time of trouble.

4. Know you stand secure, no matter what others do.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers. neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Ro. 8:38-39).

People can do what they are going to do. But, none of this impacts our standing with Christ. We are in Him. We are secure. We are loved. We are a new creation. If we stand in Christ, we can't stand outside of him.

We can hold to this truth, when the Thanksgiving feast looks like it may topple. No matter what others do, think or say, they are not the essence of who we are. Christ is. We are part of his family. We are his beloved children.

5. Find a heart of thanks for the burnt food of Thanksgiving.

True gratefulness is not just being thankful for all the delicious pickings, but also for the burnt food. If we have food - or family to complain about - we are already blessed. We are blessed with the perfect, but also with the imperfect. Why? Because through the imperfect, we see our need for a Savior. Through our failings, our trials and our frustrations, we find hope in One who is greater than these things.

He makes imperfect burnt food taste delicious when we see it for what it is - an undeserved gift.

That's why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 12:10)

Bonus Tip (consider it your Thanksgiving second helping): Realize it is impossible to control others.

We can't control things. We can only control ourselves. And, no one can take our spirit of thanks away, without us allowing them to do it. No one can steal our heart - unless we allow them to.

The fact of the matter is that when we stop looking for everyone to be perfect, we can start enjoying them for who they truly are. When our standards aren't higher than the Thanksgiving Day roof, we can see people's hearts, history and pains. And, we sometimes, can even empathize and minister to them.

Thanksgiving is a special day, a needed day. A day to see all that we have - burnt food and all. If expectations consume us, we may find all we have consumed is an inability to be happy, a heart of discontent and a spirit of bitterness.

The truth is that people will disappoint - and we will disappoint people. No one is perfect - except One. But, the ultimate truth is that God's grace never ends. It nourishes us when Thanksgiving leaves us hungry for more love.

Let's lay this truth on the table so we can pass, dish and eat up all the goodness of grace - in our own hearts and towards the hearts of others.


Service to Others as Thanksgiving to God

by Alan Knox

Recently, I saw a verse of Scripture that left me scratching my head. First, I'll give the context and the entire passage.

In 2 Corinthians 9, Paul is writing to the church in Corinth to make plans to pick up the money that they have been collecting to help the church in Judea during a time of famine. Paul has heard that the Corinthians have collected a large sum of money, and he is praising the church for their generosity. (It is during this praise that Paul writes the famous line, "God loves a cheerful giver.")

At the end of this passage, Paul reminds the Corinthians that God will bless them for their generosity, and that, also, God will be praised because of their generosity. Paul writes:

He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for all your generosity, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission flowing from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
(2 Corinthians 9:10-15 ESV)

The verse that left me scratching my head (when I read it in another source by itself) was 2 Corinthians 9:12:

For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God.
(2 Corinthians 9:12 ESV)

Why did this verse leave me confused? Because I know that the same Greek work is translated both "ministry" and "service." (That would be the term diakonia.) So, why would Paul write the same noun twice in this sentence?

The answer was simple, once I looked up the verse in my Greek NT. Paul didn't write the same noun twice. The first term (the one translated "ministry" above) is diakonia. But, the second term (the one translated "service" above) is from a completely different word: leitourgia.

Now, leitourgia is an interesting term. Typically, especially in the OT, it pointed to the work of a priest. The term is used (in the LXX – the Greek translation of the OT) in Numbers 4 to describe the "service" of priests. In the NT, we see something similar. For example, see how Luke used the term to refer to Zechariah in Luke 1:23.

So, in 2 Corinthians 9:12, Paul is saying that the Corinthian's monetary offering (collected in order to help God's people in Judea) is a priestly work which meets the needs of the saints. But this service to others, which is actually priestly service to God, doesn't only meet the needs of God's people, it also results in thanksgiving to God. In fact, Paul says their service (giving money, in this case) is abundant with many thanksgivings (plural) to God.

If we continue reading to the end of chapter 9, we see that the Corinthians' service results in thanksgiving to God, the reception by the believers in Judea results in thanksgiving to God, and Paul himself offers thanks to God.

The clear (and abundant) principle here is that our service to others results in thanksgiving to God (the abundance of many thanksgivings to God) on many different levels and by many different people.

Something to think about as we approach Thanksgiving Day.

Source: Today's Topical Bible Study

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