Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from an Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal

Thanksgiving Special

Volume 2 No. 109 November 19, 2012

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Malankara World Journal Thanksgiving Special
Table of Contents
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Editor's Note - Thanksgiving

Giving thanks to God is an important duty of Christians. This practice should not be confined to the Thanksgiving day. We should make it a habit all through our lives. ...

Inspiration for Today

Featured: On Prayer of Praise and Thanks by Pope Benedict XVI

There is reason to give thanks, and if we are attentive we see that we receive so many good things from God: He is so good to us that it is fitting, indeed necessary, to say thank you. And it should also be a prayer of praise: if our heart is open, despite all problems, we see the beauty of His creation, the goodness shown forth in His creation. Therefore, we must not only ask; we must also praise and give thanks: only in this way is our prayer complete. ...

Thankfulness: In Everything?

The most important attitude that we will ever nurture, that we will ever exhibit, is the attitude of thanksgiving. I am more convinced of that every day. The attitude that makes the difference is an attitude of being thankful, of being grateful. ...

Thanksgiving: A Life of Thanksgiving (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Thanksgiving is an attitude, a natural part of Christian character. Let's look at one short verse of Scripture, 1 Thessalonians 5:18: "... in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

First, thanksgiving is appropriate in every occasion. "Give thanks" is a command, an imperative. Giving thanks is not an option for the serious Christian. Also, this command is present tense, so the instruction is to keep on giving thanks. ...

Giving Thanks

We all know the story of those first settlers in New England -- their struggles and despair. Instead of provoking God with their complaints, they proposed having a day of thanksgiving. For many today, Thanksgiving represents football and turkey, yet Paul reminds us that one of the keys to victorious Christian living is giving thanks. ...

On The Grace of Gratitude - A Thanksgiving Meditation

To be grateful is ultimately a gift to be be received from God. We ought to humbly ask for it. We can dispose ourself to it by reflecting on things like that above but ultimately gratitude comes from a humble, contrite and transformed heart. Saying thank you is not a moralism. True gratitude is a grace, a gift that comes from a heart deeply moved, astonished and aware of the fact that all is gift. ...

Unexpected Thanksgiving

We get a whole lot more than what we might think when we come to Jesus. There is mercy way beyond what you expect. You would expect that good people, maybe, would get special favor from God. They should expect to receive blessings. But the unexpected mercy is that God shows grace to sinners like you and me. Not people that deserve anything. Sinners. What we should expect is only wrath and displeasure. But God shows his mercy toward us in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ...

Living Your Thanksgiving

At this time of year, I sit and think about when I last thanked God for giving me anything - let alone his son, Jesus Christ. I'm ashamed to admit that I don't remember. But I know that I want to make such gratefulness as prominent as the giant turkey on the table and see thanksgiving become a way of life.

There's no better thanksgiving wisdom than that found in God's Word, specifically The Old One-Hundredth (Psalm 100). If you open your Bible and take a look at this passage, you'll see a notation under the heading: "A psalm. For giving thanks." ...

Thanksgiving: Thanksgiving in Three Tenses (Psalm 66)

Highly publicized wars and others seldom heard about, more crime, more violence, a down economy, the continuing breakdown of families -- all of these conditions might discourage us. Some despairing souls might even call for a moratorium on Thanksgiving observances. Yet people have thanked God in times like ours before. One of them was the writer of Psalm 66 who thanked the Lord for the past, for the present, and for the future. ...

Thoughts on Thanksgiving (an Orthodox Rabbi discusses Thanksgiving)

Thanksgiving Day is a national American holiday for all residents of the United States, of all religions. Jews participated in Thanksgiving from the very beginning of the United States' history. This national holiday belongs to Jews as to all other Americans. It is altogether fitting that Jews join fellow Americans in observing a day of Thanksgiving to the Almighty for all the blessings He has bestowed upon this country. Jews, in particular, have much reason to thank God for the opportunities and freedoms granted to us in the United States. ...

Recipe: Preparing a Thanksgiving Turkey

Recipe: Turkey Stuffing

Family: Giving Thanks

Thanking God was a big step of faith for him (my son who is stricken with muscular dystrophy). And it provided another sign that our children were learning the true spirit of Thanksgiving - a heart of gratitude that gives thanks in all things. ...

Jesus' Prayer of Thanksgiving

When the Lord Jesus was here on earth, He was, among other things, "leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps" (1 Peter 2:21). One aspect of that example was His prayer life. He prayed and gave thanks before He fed the multitude (Matthew 15:36) and also when He ate with His disciples at the last supper (Luke 22:19). It is surely right, therefore, that we should give thanks in prayer before each meal, whether in a small group as with our family, or in a large public dining place. ...

About Malankara World

Editor's Note - Thanksgiving
This Thursday (November 22) is celebrated as Thanksgiving in US. Thanksgiving was established as a holiday by President Washington on November 26, 1789. It is a religious holiday started by the Pilgrims.

The Bible is full of verses exhorting the believers to thank God. For instance:

Psalm 106:1 - "Praise the LORD! Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever."

Hebrews 13:15 - "By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name."

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

Psalm 107:1 - "Give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever."

Giving thanks to God is an important duty of Christians. This practice should not be confined to the Thanksgiving day. We should make it a habit all through our lives.

Thanksgiving is often overshadowed by the Christmas season. In US, it is the official beginning of the sales for the Christmas Season. The day after thanksgiving, is known as "Black Friday" because many retailers depend on the sales on this day to turn them from 'red' to 'black.'

Thanksgiving is about getting together with family and friends and it's about giving thanks.

Rabbi Allen S. Maller shared a beautiful story about the meaning of Thanksgiving based on the Old Testament and the traditional Jewish practice. (1) I would like to share this story with you:

"The Bible ( 'And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days.' - Leviticus 23:40) tells us that we are supposed to take the fruit of a goodly tree and use it on the holiday of Sukkot. But which tree is the "goodly" one? Tradition says that it is a citrus tree. Indeed, the English name for etrog is citron, and you can see how the name citron is related to citrus. But that still doesn't tell us why the etrog was the type of citrus fruit that was considered good. It all goes back a long time ago to a king. This king, unlike most kings, was poor; he also was fat, felt life was tasteless, and was very unhappy.

One day he prayed to God to find the answer to all of his problems. That night he had a dream. In the dream he was told that he would find the answer to his problems in a citrus fruit. The next morning he sent for his wise men. Since there were no citrus fruits growing at that time in the Middle East, he sent them out to bring back the right fruit.

After a few weeks one of the wise men returned with an orange. "This fruit is very good," the wise man said, "it is sweet, and if you squeeze it, its juice makes a wonderful drink. If we plant these trees and grow the fruit we will be able to squeeze the oranges and put the juice in cans and export it to our neighbors. We will become rich." The king did as the wise man suggested and within a few years he and his country were rich and prosperous. However, the king still was not happy because he was still fat and life still seemed tasteless.

He called his wise men together and told them that this citrus fruit could not be the one in his dream. He sent them forth to find another citrus. After a couple of months one of them returned with a grapefruit. The wise man explained that the grapefruit was low in calories. Like the orange it could be squeezed and sold in cans. It also could be sold in sections for salads, and people on diets would love it. The king had grapefruit trees planted and ate the grapefruits regularly. His diet was a success and he was no longer fat. But he still was not happy. Life was tasteless.

The king called his wise men together and sent them out once again to find a citrus which contained the answer to his unhappiness. After six months one of the wise men returned with a lemon. He told the king that the lemon could be used in salads, in tea, on fish or chicken and that it would give to almost all foods an extra zing and a special taste. The king used the lemon and many others on his food. His food was tasty. He now was a rich, slender king with tasty food. But he still wasn't happy. And to make it worse, he didn't know why he wasn't happy. He called all his wise men together. But none of them could figure it out either.

One of them suggested that he ask a Jewish sage who was traveling through the country at the time. When the sage was told of the king's problem, he produced an etrog. "What will it do for me?" the king asked. "Nothing," the Jewish sage said, "but God has made everything for a purpose so, it's up to you to figure out what the purpose is of an etrog. It doesn't taste good. It won't make you thin or rich. It's for a person who has everything."

The king began to think about the etrog. "It's true," he said, "I do have everything I need. I have my family, and my work, and my home, and my friends. I really don't need any more things." He began to feel happy. He prayed to God, and instead of asking for something, as he had always done in the past, he thanked God for all that he had.

That is why the Bible tells us to use an etrog for Sukkot. The etrog doesn't do anything for us. It just reminds us to be thankful for all that we have. It's the perfect gift for the person who has everything, because by understanding and appreciating what we have we realize that we really have all that we need to make us happy. The etrog is the only fruit that doesn't rot. You can keep it for months or even years. In the same way, the person who is satisfied with what he has will never be unhappy when he loses something. His happiness comes from within. The etrog is indeed a goodly fruit because it teaches us what is really good for us."

By the way, the Sukkot (we know this festival by the name 'Feast of Tabernacles' in bible) is essentially a festival of thanksgiving marking the ingathering of all grains and fruits at the end of the year as well as a remembrance of the dwelling in huts of the Jews during their march through the desert in the Exodus.
 

etrog fruit etrog fruit cross section
Etrog Fruit Cross Section of Etrog Fruit

The etrog is a medium-sized citrus fruit, with a color, scent and taste similar to a lemon. A typical etrog fruit is oblong shaped, four to six inches long and has a bumpy rind. It is also known as the citron, and its scientific name is etrog citron. The etrog is used in Sukkot, where it is said to represent the heart (because of its shape). The fruit is also said to represent the ideal kind of Jews, who have both knowledge of Torah and good deeds (because it has both a pleasant scent and a pleasant taste). Some suggests that the etrog, not the apple, was the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. The ancient Greeks called etrog fruit the Persian apple, Median apple or golden apple. It is possible that this is where the reference to 'apple' came in Genesis.

Back to thanksgiving, it is easy to say thanks when everything is going right. But when we are faced with financial difficulties, family problems, job issues, emotional issues such as when we are depressed, it is hard to give thanks. However, it is important that we give thanks at all the time, not just in good times. Perhaps it is more important when we are at "the valley" to have an intimate relationship with our God.

We wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving. We hope that this special issue of Malankara World will be a blessing to you.

Dr. Jacob Mathew
Malankara World

Reference:

1. Why The Etrog Was Chosen For Sukkot by Rabbi Allen S. Maller from Dynamic Preaching, Fall 1991.

Inspiration for Today
Bill Griffin tells the story of the leper in Mark 1:40 this way:

"'Hello, I'm a leper!' A man popped out from behind a building and stood right in front of Jesus. 'Please don't run away, Jesus!'

"'What's the matter with your skin?' asked Jesus.

"'Can't You see I'm covered with runny sores and crusty scabs?' No one wants to look at me, my face is so horrible.'

"'What do you want Me to do?'

"'You can make me better. I know You can,' said the man, falling on his knees in front of Jesus. 'If You don't, I'll scratch myself to death.'

"Jesus felt sorry for the poor man.

"'Don't touch me,' said the man. 'That's how you get it.'

"'I'm not afraid to touch you.' Jesus reached down and took hold of the man's arms and pulled him to his feet. The itching was gone. The sores started to dry. The scabs began to fall off.

"'Thank You, thank You, thank You!' shouted the man. 'What can I do to thank You?'

"'You can go to the temple, show yourself to a priest and say a prayer of thanks to God.'

"'Yes, yes; I will, I will!' promised the man hurrying off.

"'One more thing,' said Jesus.

"'Anything, anything,' said the man.

"'You don't have to tell anyone what I just did.'

"'I won't tell a soul,' said the man as he skipped toward Jerusalem; but the man was so happy and the walk to the temple was so long that he forgot and told everyone he met. Then all the other lepers along the road began to look for the wonderful Man with the healing touch."

(Calvin Miller, The Family Book of Jesus, Bethany House, 2002.)

Featured: On Prayer of Praise and Thanks

by Pope Benedict XVI

Dear brothers and sisters,

Very often, our prayer is a request for help in time of need. And this is normal for man, for we need help, we need others, we need God. Thus, it is normal for us to ask something of God, to look to Him for help; and we must bear in mind that the prayer that the Lord taught us -- the "Our Father" -- is a prayer of petition, and with this prayer the Lord teaches us the priorities of our prayer; He cleanses and purifies our desires and in this way cleanses and purifies our hearts. Therefore, though in itself it is normal for us to ask for something in prayer, it should not exclusively be so.

There is also reason to give thanks, and if we are attentive we see that we receive so many good things from God: He is so good to us that it is fitting, indeed necessary, to say thank you. And it should also be a prayer of praise: if our heart is open, despite all problems, we see the beauty of His creation, the goodness shown forth in His creation. Therefore, we must not only ask; we must also praise and give thanks: only in this way is our prayer complete.

In his letters, St. Paul not only speaks about prayer; he also refers to prayers -- certainly of petition, but also prayers of praise and blessing for all that God has done and continues to accomplish in human history. Today I would like to consider the first chapter of the Letter to the Ephesians, which begins precisely with a prayer that is a hymn of blessing, an expression of thanksgiving and of joy. St. Paul blesses God, the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for in him He has made known to us "the mystery of his will" (Ephesians 1:9). Truly, there is reason to give thanks if God makes known to us what is hidden: His will with us, for us; "the mystery of His will".

"Mysterion": a term that recurs frequently in sacred Scripture and the liturgy. For now, I do not wish to enter into a discussion on philology, but in common language the term indicates what cannot be known, a reality we cannot grasp with our own intelligence. The hymn that opens the Letter to the Ephesians takes us by the hand and leads us towards a deeper meaning of this term and the reality it points to. For believers, "mystery" is not so much the unknown; rather, it is the merciful will of God, His loving plan, which is fully revealed in Jesus Christ and which offers us the possibility to "comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ" (Ephesians 3:18-19). God’s "hidden mystery" has been revealed, and it is that God loves us, and that He loves us from the beginning, from all eternity.

Let us, then, pause briefly to consider this solemn and profound prayer. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 1:3). St. Paul uses the verb "euloghein", which generally translates the Hebrew word "barak": it means to praise, to glorify and to thank God the Father as the source of every good and of salvation, as He who "has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing".

The Apostle thanks and praises, but he also reflects on the motives that move man to this praise by presenting the fundamental elements of the divine plan and its stages. First and foremost, we bless God the Father because – as St. Paul writes – He "chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and immaculate before Him in love" (Verse 4).

What makes us holy and immaculate is charity. God called us into existence, to sanctity. And this choice precedes even the creation of the world. We have always been in His plan, in His thoughts. With the prophet Jeremiah we too may affirm that before forming us in our mother’s womb He knew us (cf. Jeremiah 1:5); and knowing us, He loved us. The vocation to holiness, that is to communion with God, belongs to the eternal plan of this God, a plan that extends through history and encompasses all men and women of the world, for it is a universal call. God excludes no one; His plan is one of love. St. John Chysostom affirms: "God has Himself made us holy, but we are called to remain holy. He who lives by faith is holy" (Homily on the Letter to the Ephesians 1:1:4).

St. Paul continues: God has predestined us, He has chosen us to be "adopted sons through Jesus Christ", to be incorporated into His Only begotten Son. The Apostle emphasizes the gratuity of God’s marvelous plan for humanity. God chooses us not because we are good, but because He is good. Antiquity had a saying about goodness: bonum est diffusivum sui: the good communicates itself; it belongs to the very essence of the good to communicate itself, to extend itself. And thus, because God is goodness and is the communication of goodness, He creates because He wills to communicate His goodness to us and to make us good and holy.

At the heart of the prayer of blessing, the Apostle illustrates the way in which the Father’s plan of salvation is realized in Christ, in His beloved Son. He writes: "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace" (Ephesians 1:7). The sacrifice of the Cross of Christ is the one and unrepeatable event by which the Father has luminously shown His love for us, not only in words, but in a concrete way. God is so concrete and His love is so concrete that it enters into history, and becomes man in order to feel what it is, and how to live in the created world, and He accepts the path of the suffering of the Passion, undergoing even death. So concrete is God’s love that He participates not only in our being but even in our suffering and death.

Through the sacrifice of the Cross, we become "God’s property", since the blood of Christ redeems us from our sins, cleanses us of evil and draws us out of the bondage of sin and death. St. Paul invites us to consider the depth of God’s love, which transforms history, which transformed his own life from that of a persecutor of Christians into that of a tireless Apostle of the Gospel. Echoing once again the reassuring words of the Letter to the Romans: "If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, will He not also give us all things with Him? … For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, not height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:31-32;38-39). This certainty … that God is for us: no creature can separate us because His love is stronger. This needs to become a part of our being and part of our consciousness as Christians.

Finally, the divine blessing concludes with an allusion to the Holy Spirit who has been poured out into our hearts -- the Paraclete we have received as a seal of promise: "He," says St. Paul, "is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of His glory" (Ephesians 1:14). The Redemption has not yet been concluded, we hear – rather, it will finally attain its full completion once those whom God has acquired have been entirely saved. We are still on the journey of redemption, whose essential reality was given through Jesus’ death and resurrection. We are on the way towards definitive redemption, towards the full liberation of God’s children. And the Holy Spirit is the certainty that God will bring to completion His plan of salvation, when He restores "to Christ, the one head, all things in heaven and things on earth" (Ephesians 1:10). On this point, St. John Chrysostom comments: "God has chosen us for faith and has impressed in us the seal of the inheritance of future glory" (Homilies on the Letter to the Ephesians 1:11-14). We must accept that the journey of redemption is also our own, for God wants free creatures, who freely say "yes"; but it is first and foremost His journey. We are in His hands and our freedom is to take to the road opened by Him. In taking to this road of redemption together with Christ, we feel that the Redemption is being fully realized.

The vision St. Paul presents to us in this great prayer of blessing leads us to contemplate the action of the three Persons of the Most Holy Trinity: the Father, who chose us before the creation of the world; He thought of us and created us; the Son, who has redeemed us by His blood; and the Holy Spirit, the guarantee of our redemption and future glory. Through constant prayer, and through a daily relationship with God, we too, like St. Paul, learn to discern ever more clearly the signs of this plan and of this action: in the beauty of the Creator which shines forth from His creatures (cf. Ephesians 3:9), as St. Francis of Assisi sings: "Be praised, my Lord, through all Your creatures" (FF 263). Precisely now, during the summer holidays, it is important to be attentive to the beauty of creation and to see the face of God shine forth in this beauty. In their lives, the saints luminously show forth what the power of God can do in man’s weakness. And it can do so also in us. In the whole history of salvation, in which God makes Himself close to us and patiently awaits us, He understands our infidelities, He encourages our efforts and He guides us.

In prayer we learn to see the signs of this merciful plan in the Church’s journey. Thus it is that we grow in the love of God and open the door [of our hearts] so that the Most Holy Trinity may come and abide in us, enlighten and warm us and guide our lives. "If a man loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him" (John 14:23), Jesus says as He promises the disciples the gift of the Holy Spirit, who will teach them all things. St. Ireneaus once said that, in the Incarnation, the Holy Spirit accustomed Himself to being in man. In prayer we must accustom ourselves to being with God. This is very important, that we learn to be with God; in this way, we see that it is beautiful to be with Him, which is redemption.

Dear friends, when prayer nourishes our spiritual lives we become capable of holding what St. Paul calls "the mystery of faith" with a clear conscience (cf. 1 Timothy 3:9). Prayer, as a way of "accustoming oneself" to being together with God, produces men and women animated not by egoism, by the desire to possess, by the thirst for power, but by gratuity, by the desire to love, by the thirst to serve -- animated, that is, by God; and it is only in this way that we can bring light to the darkness of the world.

I wish to conclude this catechesis with the epilogue of the Letter to the Romans. With St. Paul, let us also give glory to God for He has told us everything about Himself in Jesus Christ and has given us the Comforter, the Spirit of truth. At the end of the Letter to the Romans, St. Paul writes: "Now to Him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret for long ages but is now disclosed and through the prophetic writings is made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith – to the only wise God be glory for evermore through Jesus Christ! Amen" (Romans 16:25-27). Thank you.

Source: Translation of the Italian-language catechesis Benedict XVI gave on June 20, 2012 during the general audience held in St. Peter’s Square. Translated by Diane Montagna.

Thankfulness: In Everything?

By Gary D. Stratman

Scripture:

Psalms 100
Philippians 4:4-9

The most important attitude that we will ever nurture, that we will ever exhibit, is the attitude of thanksgiving. I am more convinced of that every day. The attitude that makes the difference is an attitude of being thankful, of being grateful.

Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, says, "Make your petitions known. Pray to God for what concerns you, what troubles you, what you desire; but, in everything, give thanks." If we are able by the grace of God to cultivate an attitude of thanksgiving in what we do, say, and are about, we will know a life that is at once more challenging and more fulfilling.

I saw a cartoon not long ago of a family gathered for a common meal. The father said to the mother, "I don't want to complain about leftovers but haven't we already said grace over this meal three times?" He didn't want to complain about leftovers ... but he did. He wanted to give thanks in all things but he found that a little difficult to do. The greatest challenge and opportunity we have is to give thanks in all things.

In All Things Obvious, Give Thanks

In all things that are obvious, give thanks. So what does that mean? There are some good things so close at home, so obvious, that we forget to give thanks for them.

Paul begins this letter by saying, "At every remembrance of you (or every time I think of you), I give thanks for you." The next time you recognize the following thought in your mind or you hear it as you say it aloud, stop and take notice: "It goes without saying." When it comes to thanksgiving, it does not go without saying.

You remember that story about the ten lepers healed by Jesus? Nine went on their way and only one came back? That one person, a Samaritan, knew that it doesn't go without saying. The first opportunity of giving thanks in all things -- and thus changing our attitudes and our lives -- is to give thanks for the obvious things. These are the people and other blessings so close that we seem to look right past them.

When we were going through the Bethel Bible Training up in Madison, Wisconsin, several of the folks doing the teaching were descendants of Norwegian pioneers. They used to tell stories about themselves. The Norwegians, they said, were not known for expressing their feelings very freely. One of the speakers said that he knew a Norwegian farmer, however, who loved his wife and appreciated her so much that one day he almost told her so.

Norwegian or not, that's the way we are sometimes. It's so obvious that we forget to give thanks. The Psalm says we are to give thanks for God's benefits. Think for a moment of the benefits of being here right now: We can laugh and sing and cry. These benefits are a part of God's wonderful love for us. One of the greatest benefits of being fully alive is to give thanks for all of God's benefits. What benefits go unnoticed because they are too obvious?

As we have many children here it would be interesting to ask, "Have you ever given thanks for the wonderful miracle of your body?" A great architect said there's been no invention like the human hand, and it's true.

Children (of all ages), have you thought about your noses lately? Suppose that your nose was on upside down. Every time you would sneeze, you'd blow your hat off. That's right. And if your nose was on upside down, when it rains you'd drown. That may sound silly but you know what I think is sillier? Forgetting to give thanks to God who created this marvelous miracle called our body. The Bible says we are wonderfully made. We are!

Although we are wonderfully made, we're too small to cling to all of the thankfulness that wells up in us. When we want to thank God, it spills over and we begin thanking other people. When we're truly thankful to God, we begin to thank people for what they have meant to us. We write a note. We make a phone call. We stop a person in our busy schedule and say, "You know, I really appreciate you." Thanksgiving -- it is not a time of the year but an attitude of the heart that changes people. We are to give thanks in all things obvious.

In All Things Obscure, Give Thanks

Obscure? What does that mean? It means opportunities that are hidden, people that we don't see right away, things that seem of little value until we take a closer look.

In this passage Paul says, "Whatever is true, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good report or gracious ... think on these things." It means calculate. Stop and ponder. Think about them for a while and begin to see that these "things obscure" go beyond our casual seeing.

"Give thanks for those things that are true." That word is a wonderful word. It means not only that which is true in terms of truth-telling, or honest speaking, but also those things that are solid, of lasting substance. It is not what flits away, is here today and gone tomorrow, but the enduring things: to give thanks for friendships that don't just blow away in tough times; to give thanks for a marriage.

We were at a conference where the President of Princeton Seminary was the speaker. His daughter came to him one day and said, "I've looked around and there just aren't any good marriages. I'm so discouraged. I don't want to get married." I've heard that many times and I must admit that it seems to be true. But I loved his response. He said, "I'll tell you one marriage that's good. It's the marriage of your mother and I." She said, "Oh, that doesn't count." And he said, "It counts!"

And that's what I want to say, It counts! It counts to give thanks for those things that are true and that endure.

Paul says whatever things are lovely, think on those things. This suggests that whatever people are loveable and amiable, give thanks for them. There is a famous psychologist who calls some folks "noxious people." They are people who seem to make us sick because they're always negative and pointing out our foibles, inconsistencies and the things we've done wrong. But he says there are also "nourishing people" in our lives. Give thanks for those who nourish you, who feed you, who are a part of God's gracious plan to build you up.

Whatever things are of good report, whatever things are valuable, give thanks for them. Even though you can't see the value at first, meditate, calculate, reckon, think on them and they become more clear. Even in those things that are obscure, give thanks.

In All Things Objectionable, Give Thanks

I saved the toughest for last and you know it. In all things objectionable, give thanks. This is the one with which we have the most difficulty.

"Do you mean to say I am to give thanks for this tough patch that I am going through?" "Am I supposed to give thanks for this thorn in the flesh that doesn't seem to be taken from me?" That's a tough one, isn't it? But if we are to have an attitude of thanks that can transform the situation, we are to give thanks in all things objectionable.

Quite naturally you may say, "I'm not going to give thanks for this illness," or "I'm not going to give thanks for what this person has done to me." Then at least start here: Give thanks for the Presence of God in that situation, that God has not left you. Even though you had a setback, God is still present and willing to redeem the situation. Then there's the next step. Begin to realize that even through the worst circumstances God can work. Isn't the risen, living Christ the great reminder that even the evil of the cross can be transformed into new and exalted life?

I remember Corrie ten Boom. She died after many years of serving the Lord. What a remarkable, gracious lady. She and her family lived through the Nazi holocaust and they hid Jewish people in their home who would otherwise have been killed. When she was in a Nazi prison camp it was such a flea-ridden, terrible place that she couldn't stand it.

Her older sister Betsy said, "But I have found something in the Bible that will help us. It says, 'In all things, give thanks'." Corrie said, "I can't give thanks for the fleas." Betsy said, "Give thanks that we're together. Most families have been split up." Corrie thought, "I can do that."

Her sister continued, "Give thanks that somehow the guards didn't check our belongings and our Bible is with us." She gave thanks for that. But Corrie would not even think of giving thanks for the fleas. Later they found out that the only reason they were not molested and harmed by the guards was because their "captors" were so repulsed by the fleas that they would not go in. Give thanks even for those lowly creatures!

In the town of Enterprise, Alabama, there is a monument in the middle of the town square. You'd think it's probably of a Confederate general. It's not. It's a monument to a boll weevil. A boll weevil is an animal that destroys cotton. That town depended upon cotton. In 1915 the boll weevil destroyed their livelihood, but through this they learned the importance of diversified farming. They learned to plant peanuts, corn and other crops. In two years they erected a monument to the boll weevil to be a reminder that through a terrible event, good things came to their town.

The Old Testament patriarch Joseph said to his brothers, who sold him into slavery and would have killed him, "You meant this to be for evil but God meant it for good." That was his monument to the power of God to bring good out of apparent evil.

God can use even the worst in the circumstances of this fallen world to bring the best about. You know why we can believe that? Because God certainly did not want His Son to die on the cross but, when it became necessary, the despised instrument of death became the way we could come to know God. The cross became the means by which we can give thanks in all things, those things obvious, obscure and even objectionable. In everything, give thanks.  

Thanksgiving: A Life of Thanksgiving (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

By David L. Chancey

The 19th-century English writer Harriett Martineau was an atheist. One day she was walking with a friend and enjoying the glories of a beautiful fall morning when suddenly she burst out, "Oh, I'm so grateful!"

Her Christian friend replied, "Grateful to whom, my dear?"

If we are going to say "thank you," then logically we say "thank you" to somebody. Pausing to express gratitude to a great and mighty God is the reminder of this national holiday. But Thanksgiving is more than a holiday for the grateful believer -- it's a way of life. Bo Baker said, "Thanksgiving is grace dressed in unselfishness, gratitude spelled out in personal concern and character showing its colors like the lovely leaves of fall."

Thanksgiving is an attitude, a natural part of Christian character. Let's look at one short verse of Scripture, 1 Thessalonians 5:18: "... in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

First, thanksgiving is appropriate in every occasion. "Give thanks" is a command, an imperative. Giving thanks is not an option for the serious Christian. Also, this command is present tense, so the instruction is to keep on giving thanks.

Give thanks in everything .... in all circumstances. Paul is not saying give thanks for everything, but in connection with everything that happens. In every circumstance, no matter what or where, you can still thank God. That's God's imperative to the growing Christian. Paul is speaking here of a life marked by thanksgiving.

Not everything that happens to us is good, but God uses everything that happens to work for our good.

Sometimes we don't know whether something is good or bad, but we can be thankful God is working for our good in everything.

Not only is thanksgiving appropriate in every occasion, but also: thanksgiving should abound naturally in the life of every growing Christian. Thanksgiving is the natural response to the grace and goodness of a great and wonderful God who cares and provides. Thanksgiving should overflow from the life of the Christian. Listen to these appeals for a grateful heart:

"And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and he thankful (Col. 3:15).

"And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him (Col. 3:17).

"Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving" (Col. 4:2).

Paul in this Colossians passage ties thanksgiving closely to prayer, as he also does in the 1 Thessalonians verse. Overflowing gratitude springs from a life of continuous, ceaseless prayer (1 Thess. 5:17). Thanksgiving should be a natural part of the Christian's prayer. How can we pray without first giving thanks for all He has done? When we pray thanks, we must also live out thanksgiving with our words and actions.

A father was asking the blessing as usual at breakfast, thanking God for His bountiful provision. Immediately afterward he began to grumble about the hard times, about the meal and the way it was cooked. His daughter interrupted,

"Daddy, do you think God heard what you said when you prayed a little while ago?"
"Certainly," the dad replied with confidence.
"And then did He hear what you said about the bacon and coffee?" she asked.
"I'm sure He did," the dad replied, not so confidently.
"Then which did He believe?" the little girl asked.

What naturally abounds in your life? Gratitude or grumbling? Is your prayer of thanksgiving consistent with your life of thanksgiving?

Finally, thanksgiving is the secret to a happy Christian life. Key to contentment and wholeness for the Christian is learning how to express thanks; not complaining, criticizing or grumbling. For many people the first response is criticism or grumbling. That's the sign of an ungrateful heart. If God uses everything to work together for good, how can we not be thankful? When trials come and work for our spiritual maturity, how can we not count it all joy?

Paul said being thankful, along with rejoicing always and praying without ceasing, is God's will for our lives.

An immigrant shopkeeper had a son who kept complaining, "Dad, I don't understand how you run this store. You keep your accounts payable in a cigar box. Your accounts receiveable are on a spindle. All your cash is in the register. You never know what your profits are."

The old man responded, "When I arrived in this land all I owned was the pair of pants I was wearing. Now your sister is an art teacher. Your brother is a doctor. You are a CPA. Your mother and I own a house and a car and this little store. Add that all up and subtract the pants and there is your profit."

That was a man with a grateful heart and a thankful life. He's a good example for all of us -- grateful for what he had.

When Martin Rinkhart wrote one of our most popular Thanksgiving hymns, it was the worst of times in Europe as the Thirty Years War was taking place. Rinkhart and his congregation suffered the full force of war's savagery. Their little village in Germany was invaded and sacked three times with almost everything of value destroyed. Many died.

Rinkhart looked death and destruction squarely in the face and sought God's strength in deep, searching prayer. When he rose, the burdened minister had his answer from God. Nothing had really changed. They could still praise God with a thankful spirit!

God's presence and power were so vivid in his hurt that Rinkhart expressed his feelings on paper. Then he composed a tune and shared it with a few members. It caught on and became "Now Thank We All Our God," a hymn that expresses profoundly our deepest feelings of gratitude.

This Thanksgiving, let's express genuine gratitude that springs from a life of giving thanks to God.  

Giving Thanks

By Michael Duduit

1 Thessalonians 5:18

We all know the story of those first settlers in New England -- their struggles and despair. Instead of provoking God with their complaints, they proposed having a day of thanksgiving. For many today, Thanksgiving represents football and turkey, yet Paul reminds us that one of the keys to victorious Christian living is giving thanks.

I. When Should We Give Thanks

Thanksgiving should not be limited to a certain day, but be a part of our lives all times, in all circumstances Paul's challenge to be thankful of all things only makes sense in the light of the promise of Romans 8:28 -- God can take all things and use them for our good.

II. Why Should We Give Thanks?

Though there are many reasons, two are mentioned here:

a. Be thankful for deliverance from sin. (Rom. 6:17-18). When we give our lives to Christ, we are freed from our slavery to sin and enter into a new relationship as children of God.

b. Be thankful for the victorious life we have in Christ. (I Cor. 15:57)

III. How Should We Give Thanks

a. Through praise. There is something about praise that strengthens us, lifts us closer to God.

b. Through service. As a doctor judges the heart by a pulse, so people can judge our thankfulness by our lives. Real thankfulness results in service to God.

On The Grace of Gratitude - A Thanksgiving Meditation

By: Msgr. Charles Pope

One of the dangers in presenting New Testament moral teaching is that the preacher or teacher risks reducing the Gospel to a moralism. In other words the moral truth that is proclaimed is reduced merely to another rule that I am supposed to keep out of my own flesh power. This is an incorrect notion since, for a Christian, the moral life is not achieved, it is received. The moral life is not an imposition, it is a gift from God.

In the Gospel chosen for the American Holiday of Thanksgiving we have the familiar story of the ten lepers who are healed by Jesus and only one returns to thank Him. This fact of the ingratitude of the other nine prompts an irritable response by Jesus who more than suggests that they should also have returned to give thanks. Now if we just read this Gospel on the surface we can come away merely with a moralism that we should do a better job about being thankful to God and others. Well, OK. But simply having another rule or being reminded of a rule that already exists isn’t really the Gospel, it’s just a rule or an ethic of polite society.

Where the Gospel, the Transformative Good News exists, is to receive from God a deeply grateful heart so that we do not merely say thank you, but we are actually and deeply moved with gratitude. We are not merely being polite or justly rendering a debt of obligation to say "thanks" we actually ARE grateful from the heart. True gratitude is a grace, or gift from God which proceeds from a humble and transformed heart. In such a case we do not render thanks merely because it is polite or expected, but because it naturally flows from a profound experience of gratitude. This is the Gospel, not a moralism, but a truth of a transformed heart.

Thus, an anointing to seek from God is a powerful transformation of our intellect and heart wherein we become deeply aware of the remarkable gift that everything we have really is. As this awareness deepens so does our gratitude and joy at the "magnificent munificence" of our God. Everything, literally everything, is a gift from God.

Permit a few thoughts on the basis for a deepening awareness of gratitude. Ultimately gratitude is a grace, but having a deeper awareness of the intellectual basis for it can help to open us more fully to this gift.

1. We are contingent beings who depend on God for our very existence. He holds together every fiber of our being: every cell, every part of a cell, every molecule, every part of a molecule, every atom, every part of an atom. God facilitates every function of our body: every beat of our heart, every organ and movement of our body. God sustains every intricate detail of this world in which we live: the perfectly designed orbit of this planet so that we do not cook or freeze, the magnetic shield around the planet that protects us from harmful aspects of solar radiation, every intricate visible and hidden process of this earth, solar system, galaxy and universe. All of this, and us, are contingent and thus sustained by God and provided for by Him. The depth, height, length and width of what God does is simply astonishing. And he does it all free of charge. As we ponder such goodness and providence we are helped to be more grateful. All is gift.

2. Every good thing you or I do is a gift from God. St. Paul says, What have you that you have not received. And if you have received, why do you glory as though you had achieved? (1 Cor 4:7). Elsewhere he writes, For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Eph 2:8-10). Hence even our good works are not our gift to God, they are His gift to us. And on judgment day we cannot say to God, "Look what I have done, you owe me heaven." All we can say on that day is "Thank You!" All is gift!

3. Gifts in strange packages - There are some gifts of God that do not seem like gifts. There are sudden losses, tragedies, natural disasters and the like. In such moments we can feel forsaken by God, and gratitude is the last thing on our mind. But here too, Scripture bids us to look again: And we know that all things work together for the good of those who love God and who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28). We don’t always know how, but even in difficult moments God is making a way unto something good, something better. He is paving a path to glory, perhaps through the cross, but unto glory. For now we may have questions but Jesus has said to us: But I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. On that day you will have no more questions to ask me. (Jn 16:22-23). Yes, even in our difficulties we are more than conquerors (Rm 8:37) because the Lord can write straight with crooked lines, and make a way out of no way. All is gift!

4. Yes, all are gifts. Absolutely everything is gift. Even our failures, if we are in Christ and learn from them and they teach us humility. For what shall we give thanks? Everything! All is gift!

5. There is an old saying: Justice is when you get what you deserve. Mercy is when you don’t get what you deserve. grace is when you get what you don’t deserve. I like you get asked a dozen times a day, "How are you doing?" I have trained myself to often answer, "More blessed than I deserve." Yes, All is gift.

6. Finally, the work "Thanks" in English is unfortunately abstract. But in the Latin and the Romance Languages, the word for "thanks" is far more tied to the fact of grace and gift. In Latin one says thank you as gratias ago tibi, or simply, gratias. Now gratias is translated as "thanks" But it is really the same word as "grace" and "gift" which in Latin is rendered gratia. Hence when one receives a gift they thus exclaim: "Grace!" or "Gifts!" It is the same with Spanish: Gracias and Italian: ‘Grazie. French has a slightly different approach but no less abstract when it says Thank you as Merci which is rooted in the Latin merces, meaning something that has been paid for or given freely. So all these languages vividly record the giftedness that underlies everything for which we are grateful. The English word "thanks" does not quite make the connections. About the closest we get are the words, gratitude and grateful. And again all these words (gratias, gracias, grazie, merci, gratitude) teach us that all is gift!

To be grateful is ultimately a gift to be be received from God. We ought to humbly ask for it. We can dispose ourself to it by reflecting on things like that above but ultimately gratitude comes from a humble, contrite and transformed heart. Saying thank you is not a moralism. True gratitude is a grace, a gift that comes from a heart deeply moved, astonished and aware of the fact that all is gift.

Unexpected Thanksgiving

by The Rev. Charles Henrickson

Gospel: Luke 17:11-19

It was an unexpected thanksgiving. I mean the thanksgiving recorded in today's reading from Luke 17, the story of Jesus healing the ten lepers. The thanksgiving that we find there was quite unexpected. And that may give us some guidance and inspiration for the rest of our day today, that we too may do some "Unexpected Thanksgiving."

Oh, now you would expect people to give thanks to the person who healed them, when they had just been healed of a dreaded disease like leprosy. It was a kind of a walking death, in a way. It ostracized you, cut you off, from the rest of society. It cut you off from God, really, since you were considered "unclean" and not able to go to the temple. To be a leper was a lousy lot in life.

So you would think, to be cured of that, you would be moved to render the most heartfelt, deep thanksgiving to God and to the person who was the agent of God's healing. That's what you would think. Yet nine out of ten of the healed lepers didn't. They didn't stop to think about who this man was who healed them, who he must be, in order to do such a mighty, divine work. They didn't come back to thank him and to praise God.

But one did. And that was the unexpected thing. The one who came back. He was, it says, a Samaritan, a foreigner.

The other guys, they were all Jews, presumably. They should have got it. They should have made the connection. "Let's see, man heals lepers. Nobody can do that, only God. We've heard of this Jesus doing other such works. Maybe he's more than just a teacher. Maybe he's more than a prophet. Maybe he's. . . ." See, those guys should have got it. They should have come back running, falling to their knees, thanking--worshiping--their Messiah.

But no. Who's the only one who comes back? The Samaritan. An ethnic, religious half-breed. The Samaritans didn't have their theology straight. They were looked down upon as a mixed race. This is not the one you should expect to "get it." But he does, or at least he's beginning to. He can see that God is working through--that God is in--this man Jesus, in a way beyond what he thought at first. He comes back and thanks Jesus, and Jesus commends him for his faith: "Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well."

"Your faith has made you well." "Your faith has saved you," the Greek could also be translated. Your faith has made you whole, saved you, made you well, in body, soul, and spirit. You see, when you come to Jesus, you get a whole lot more than just a temporary, physical healing. That's what the ten lepers had been asking for when they cried out, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us." The act of mercy they were looking for was a physical healing, to be cured of their leprosy. But Jesus has more in store than just that. Yes, there was an unexpected thanksgiving, from the Samaritan, for the healing. But more than that, there was unexpected mercy, from Jesus, more than they were asking for. Jesus is in the business of healing the whole person, restoring us not for just a few years but for eternity. The healed Samaritan was getting a whole lot more than he was expecting when he came to Jesus.

So it is for us. We get a whole lot more than what we might think when we come to Jesus. There is mercy way beyond what you expect. You would expect that good people, maybe, would get special favor from God. They should expect to receive blessings. But the unexpected mercy is that God shows grace to sinners like you and me. Not people that deserve anything. Sinners. What we should expect is only wrath and displeasure. But God shows his mercy toward us in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. God shows his grace toward the weak and ungodly, people who are unable to help themselves or even inch themselves closer into God's good favor. But that's what God does. He's in the forgiving-sinners business. He's in the showing-mercy business. He's in the healing-and-restoring-sinful-humanity business. That what he does.

And he does it in Christ. Jesus is the agent of God's healing. The mercy and grace come through him. Christ is God in the flesh, God come to earth to do the saving-sinners job. The healing of the lepers is a demonstration of this. It's an advance showing of what's in store for our fallen creation because of Christ. It is unexpected mercy. God forgiving the very people who had rebelled against their Creator, and that's us. Christ going to the cross is the way it happens. Jesus takes into his body all our sin and bears that unbearable burden on the cross. God's Son pays the price we could not pay. Sins are forgiven. And thereby death's hold on us is broken. Humanity will be restored as surely as Christ's resurrection pioneers the new creation. Our dead, rotting flesh will be raised up new and glorious, perfectly whole, on the day when Christ returns. This is mercy way beyond we sinners should ever expect.

"Your faith has made you well." Your faith has saved you, made you whole. Not because it is "your faith," as though you has something to boast about. No, "your faith has made you well," because it is faith in Jesus. Christ is the one who makes your saving faith saving. He packs the salvation into it.

And it is total, complete salvation, as complete as the job that Jesus accomplished. Your sins are forgiven, all of them. Your salvation is assured, forever. Your body, and all of creation, will be restored, perfectly whole. It's as sure as your Savior, and that's as sure as can be.

This unexpected mercy, more than you could ever dream of, prompts, brings forth, unexpected thanksgiving. Here's what I mean. Even when times are tough, even when circumstances are such, that people would not expect you be thankful, you are. "In any and every circumstance," as Paul says, you can rejoice, you are content, you have something to be thankful for. That's because your joy and contentment and thanksgiving are not dependent on this or that passing circumstance. Your thanksgiving is greater than your circumstance, because you have received unexpected and unfathomable mercy. It's more than anyone could imagine. And it's a sure thing. And so you give thanks.

Even in the midst of an extended economic downturn, such as our country has been experiencing, we give thanks. When disease is racking our bodies, when distress is haunting our minds, when our conscience is troubled because of our sins, the gospel sneaks in once again and reminds us whose we are and what Christ has done for us, and then thanksgiving returns. Unexpectedly, perhaps. People don't expect you to be thankful in such times, but you are. Maybe you even surprise yourself.

To be sure, we do give thanks to God for the various blessings that come into our life, the unmistakably good things that come our way: the birth of a healthy grandchild; the diagnosis that turns out OK; the prospect of a surgery that will fix this or that problem; the fact that we have a roof over our head and clothes on our back and food on the table. These are all good things, and we do give thanks for them. National blessings, too, which is what this National Day of Thanksgiving is supposed to be about: bountiful harvests; an incredible supply of natural resources; relative prosperity, when looked at in worldwide and historical terms--Americans are so much better off, even when there's a slight dip in the economic line. We give thanks to God for these things.

And as Christians, we have all our spiritual blessings to thank God for, too. That we have the gift of faith, to trust in Christ our Savior--this is the work of the Holy Spirit, creating and nourishing our faith. We thank God for the church, where we hear the saving Gospel and receive the Blessed Sacrament. Freedom to worship in this blessed land--not everyone has this freedom in other parts of the world. We give thanks to God for all these blessings. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

So we have much to be thankful for. The blessings of Creation--home, family, health, bounty. The blessings of Redemption and Sanctification--forgiveness of sins, righteousness before God, the sure hope of everlasting life through Christ our Savior; the church, the means of grace. The list goes on and on.

So why don't you go on--at least a little bit--throughout the day today? Do something unexpected: Give thanks to God on Thanksgiving Day. Not many people do that, you know. I mean, actually, verbally, give thanks to God, out loud, for his many blessings. Hardly anybody does that anymore. Surprise people a bit. Give thanks to God on Thanksgiving Day. Shock your relatives. Amaze your friends. There's more to this day than football and turkey and getting ready to go shopping. The really amazing, unexpected thing to do on Thanksgiving Day is to thank God.

Yes, unexpected Thanksgiving for unexpected mercy, God's bountiful mercy in Christ Jesus our Lord, more mercy than anyone could ever ask or imagine!

Living Your Thanksgiving

by Laura MacCorkle, Crosswalk.com Senior Editor

Make a glad sound to the Lord, all the earth. Give worship to the Lord with joy; come before him with a song. Be certain that the Lord is God; it is he who has made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep to whom he gives food. Come into his doors with joy, and into his house with praise; give him honour, blessing his name. For the Lord is good, and his mercy is never-ending; his faith is unchanging through all generations. Psalm 100, The Bible in Basic English

When I was younger, Thanksgiving was pretty much just another holiday - a day when I got to eat a whole lot of good food and nibble on all the sugary stuff I wanted.

In fact, one year it only took me, my sister, two forks and about 30 minutes to finish off the rest of the pecan pie, while everyone else was either glued to the football game or snoring in a recliner. We had no regrets, and I’m pretty sure we’d do it again.

But besides being a holiday when I had permission to indulge, Thanksgiving was also a word my grandfather always incorporated at the end of his prayers: "And with thanksgiving, in Jesus' name, Amen." I always wondered why he used a word that made me think of cornucopias and construction-paper turkeys; but he had the Th.D. in our family, and I did not. So I knew he must have had a good reason.

Years later, I think I now understand. In that one word, he was saying "Thank You for giving." You, being God. From my grandfather's example, I see that thanksgiving was more than a one-day family gathering. It was and is a way of living, a daily act of expressing gratitude to our Maker who first gave to us.

At this time of year, I sit and think about when I last thanked God for giving me anything - let alone his son, Jesus Christ. I'm ashamed to admit that I don't remember. But I know that I want to make such gratefulness as prominent as the giant turkey on the table and see thanksgiving become a way of life.

There's no better thanksgiving wisdom than that found in God's Word, specifically The Old One-Hundredth (Psalm 100). If you open your Bible and take a look at this passage, you'll see a notation under the heading: "A psalm. For giving thanks."

Following that, there are many directives listed that can help us live our Thanksgiving . . .

Make a glad sound to the Lord
Give worship to the Lord with joy
Come before him with a song
Be certain that the Lord is God
Come into his doors with joy,
and into his house with praise

[Remember] for the Lord is good . . . his mercy is never-ending . . . his faith is unchanging

Reflect on Psalm 100 today, and ask the Lord how he can help you really live out Thanksgiving each day of the year.

Intersecting Faith & Life:

Your celebration with friends or loved ones is probably already planned by this point. But here is your Thanksgiving Day challenge: take time to “live your Thanksgiving” and call or visit someone who is alone or having a hard time (for whatever reason) on this holiday.

Further Reading:

Psalm 107:1
Psalm 150
Ephesians 2:8

Source: Crosswalk.com - The Devotional

Thanksgiving: Thanksgiving in Three Tenses (Psalm 66

By Willard A. Scofield

What a time to offer up thanks to Almighty God!

Highly publicized wars and others seldom heard about, more crime, more violence, a down economy, the continuing breakdown of families -- all of these conditions might discourage us. Some despairing souls might even call for a moratorium on Thanksgiving observances. Yet people have thanked God in times like ours before. One of them was the writer of Psalm 66 who thanked the Lord for the past, for the present, and for the future.

Thank You, Lord, for Yesterday

In verses 5 and 6 of Psalm 66, the psalmist recalls the mighty acts of God in the past: "Come and see what God has done, how awesome his works in man's behalf! He turned the sea into dry land, they passed through the waters on foot; come, let us rejoice in him."

Israel was grateful for its heritage: the patriarchs who took God at His word and stepped out on faith, the prophets who courageously spoke the Word of God, the psalmists who sang songs of praise on dark days.

Every Christian can thank God for the great events that have brought us hope for this life and for eternity: the coming of Christ, the cross, the resurrection, the great affirmations from the pen of Paul, such as "God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them" (2 Cor. 5:10).

And we can thank God for our Christian heritage which has permitted us ready access to the faith. Think of some of the elements of that heritage:

- those who labored to faithfully transmit the text of the Bible
- the founders of our churches
- grandparents and parents who were models of what Christians should be
- faithful pastors and Sunday school teachers
- a friend who told us about Christ
- and many more.

We can say, "Thank You, Lord, for yesterday."

Thank You, Lord, for Today

The psalmist says in verses 8 and 9, "Praise our God, O peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard; he has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping."

Let us thank God for life, as did a little girl who prayed, "Thank You, Lord, for Mommy and Daddy, for Grandma and Grandpa, thank You for John and Joel, and thank You, Lord, for me."

There never were any "good old days." The great leaders of the Christian church despaired over conditions in their times. However, they believed that God was alive, and their actions and writings have blessed the church for centuries.

Tremendous opportunities challenge the church today. Large parts of the world -- including Eastern Europe, Africa, and Latin America -- are open to the gospel as never before:

- we have the technology and the volunteers to reach the people groups that have never had a Christian church planted in their midsts.

- more people of all ages and from all walks of life are volunteering for short terms of overseas Christian service;

- many of the young people ready to do missionary work today come from young churches in third-world countries;

- God is alive, and He is using His people to do good things.

In Europe there are some bells strung across a mountain range. There is no rope suspended from the bells; no human hand ever rings them. Their sound is heard when the wind blows. In the autumn there may be a few tingles as gentle winds move the bells, but during the gales of winter they peal forth their most majestic music.

God brings out the best in us under the pressure of tough times. Let us thank Him that we are alive today.

Thank You, Lord, for Tomorrow

In verse 4 of this Psalm, the writer looks forward to the day ahead: "All the earth bows down to you; they sing praise to you, they sing praise to your name." The psalmist saw the day when God will reign and the world will respond to Him in worship.

Though we may not be sure of all the details, we do know the end of the story. God's promises will be fulfilled and His purposes completed. God is working in history to bring about His ultimate victory.

We work for the Lord because we are confident that He is in control. That was the attitude of a man who lived during days of great turmoil in England. In a chapel at Stanton Harold, outside of London, these words are engraved on a plaque:

"In the year 1653, when all things sacred throughout the nation were either demolished or profaned, Sir Robert Shirley Baronet founded this church whose singular praise it is to have done the best things in the worst times and hoped them in the most calamitous." 

Thoughts on Thanksgiving
(An Orthodox Rabbi discusses Thanksgiving)

by Rabbi Marc Angel

President George Washington proclaimed Thursday November 26, 1789 as a day of national thanksgiving to God "for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us."

The Jewish communities in the United States of that time rejoiced in the role they played in establishing this new country. Already in 1784, leaders of Congregation Shearith Israel in New York City (founded 1654) had sent a letter to Governor George Clinton on behalf of "the ancient congregation of Israelites" in which they said: "Though the society we belong to is but small, when compared with other religious societies, yet we flatter ourselves that none has manifested a more zealous attachment to the sacred cause of America in the late war with Great Britain....And we now look forward with pleasure to the happy days we expect to enjoy under a constitution wisely framed to preserve the inestimable blessings of civil and religious liberty."

A new country was born, and the Jews had participated in its formation. They were equal citizens in the United States. This was not true of Jews in any country in Europe or in the Muslim world. American Jews were the first in the history of the diaspora to be citizens on an equal footing with their non-Jewish neighbors, and to have actually participated in fighting for the independence of a new nation.

When President Washington called for a day of Thanksgiving, Jews observed this day with joy and pride. At Shearith Israel in New York, the Rev. Gershom Mendes Seixas arranged a suitable service of prayer, and delivered an address in which he called upon Jews "to support that government which is founded upon the strictest principles of equal liberty and justice."

In subsequent years, days of Thanksgiving were similarly celebrated at Shearith Israel and the other early Jewish congregations. These days were invariably proclaimed in the name of the American people, and were meant to be observed by each citizen according to his or her own faith. In 1817, New York State established an annual observance of Thanksgiving Day. Shearith Israel held services on each subsequent year--except 1849 and 1854. In those two years, the Governor of the State had addressed his proclamation specifically to "a Christian people" instead of to Americans of all faiths. Other than these two years, Thanksgiving has been proclaimed for all Americans, each according to his and her own faith.

It is sometimes heard in Orthodox Jewish circles that Thanksgiving Day is a "non-Jewish holiday" and should not be observed by religious Jews. This view is historically wrong and morally dubious. Thanksgiving Day is a national American holiday for all residents of the United States, of all religions. Jews participated in Thanksgiving from the very beginning of the United States' history. This national holiday belongs to Jews as to all other Americans. It is altogether fitting that Jews join fellow Americans in observing a day of Thanksgiving to the Almighty for all the blessings He has bestowed upon this country. Jews, in particular, have much reason to thank God for the opportunities and freedoms granted to us in the United States.

In his famous letter to the Jewish community of Newport in 1790, President Washington wrote: "May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants--while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid." These are words, expressive of the American spirit at its best, for which we can be thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Source: Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals

Recipe: Preparing a Thanksgiving Turkey
Preparation for a traditional Thanksgiving turkey dinner begins long before popping the bird into the oven. Following these basic steps will guarantee success for your Thanksgiving chef

What you need:

Turkey, butter, seasoning, stuffing, stock, roasting pan and rack, skewers, meat thermometer or pop-up timer, bulb baster, carving knife and fork.

How Big a Turkey You Should Purchase

A general rule of thumb is 1 pound of turkey per person.

Guests Turkey (lbs.)
8 8-12
12 12-14
14 14-18
18 18-20
20 20-24

1. Thawing Turkey

If frozen, allow approximately 24 hours per 5 pounds of turkey to thaw in a refrigerator or 30 minutes per pound in cold water, changed every 30 minutes.

Skip this step if you have a fresh Turkey.

2. Cleaning Turkey

Remove giblets and neck from inside cavity.

Thoroughly wash the turkey with cold running water and pat dry with paper towels.

3. Stuffing Turkey

Note: See below for a recipe to make stuffing.

Place stuffing in the main cavity. Pull the long flap of skin over the opening and secure it with skewers.

Note: Don't overstuff. it will expand while cooking.

4. For your taste buds

Rub softened butter or brush melted butter onto the skin. Season as desired.

You can make a rubbing compound with black and red chillie powder, turmeric, coriander, salt, nutmeg, and basil. Make a sauce with lemon juice, olive or canola oil and balsamic vinegar. Apply liberally on all surfaces. Scour or puncture on the skin so the spice will penetrate into the meat. You can apply inside with the baster.  

Also puncture small cavities and stuff with garlic, ginger, salt and cardamom. Be creative; but mindful of your taste-buds and those of your guests.

5. Cooking

a. Cooking time depend on the size of the bird and if it is stuffed.

Use the table below as a guide.

Weight of Turkey 8-12 lbs. 12 - 14 lbs. 14-18 lbs. 18 - 20 lbs. 20 - 24 lbs.
Not Stuffed 2 3/4 to 3
hours
3 to 3 3/4
hours
3 3/4 to 4 1/4
hours
4 1/4 to 4 1/2
hours
4 1/2 to 5
hours
Stuffed 3 to 3 1/2
hours
3 1/2 to 4
hours
4 to 4 1/4
hours
41/4 to 4 3/4
hours
4 3/4 to 5 1/4
hours

Note: The oven times will vary. Please check the temperature as given below with the thermometer.

b. Set oven temperature at 325 degrees

c. For a juicy turkey use cooking bag. Place in the oven or roaster with the breast side up. Cover with aluminum foil at top. Remove foil in the last hour of roasting so the skin browns

6. How to know if it is cooked?

Roast until the turkey and stuffing have reached 165-170 degrees in the breast and 180 degrees in the thigh.

Many turkeys come with pop on thermometer that pops on reaching the desired temperature.

Remove from the oven and let stand for 20 minutes before carving.

7. Carving

The traditional American style is carving. You can cut and serve like you do roasted chicken if you prefer. In case you want to carve, here are some guidelines:

1. Remove the drumstick from the thigh by cutting through the connecting joint

2. Holding the turkey with a meat fork, make a horizontal cut above the wing.

3. Carve thin slices along the breast, stopping at the horizontal cut. Serve the drum stick as a whole or carve the meat off the bone.

8. Serving

Please do not forget to say your thanks and prayer before eating. (Pray for Malankara World too!)

Recipe: Turkey Stuffing
Ingredients:

5 pounds ground meat (round, sirloin or ground chuck)
5 - 6 large stalks of celery, tops included
4 large apples 2 large onions
5 pieces of toast
1 egg per pound of meat
Garlic salt
Salt
Pepper
Sage

Directions:

Put celery, apples, onions, eggs and toast through the food processor, mix into the meat and spices to taste.

Brown the mixture in a large kettle on medium heat. Stir occasionally to prevent burning. Drain off any grease as it accumulates in the pan.

Let cool, refrigerate overnight.

Stuff the turkey just before cooking.

This will stuff a 20 pound turkey with dressing left over.

Note: Any leftover stuffing can be heated in a casserole dish. This makes great sandwiches with gravy.

Source: WVIZ/TV Carole Kmetz, Parma, Ohio

Family: Giving Thanks

by Barbara Rainey

It is good to give thanks to the LORD and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High.
PSALM 92:1

As Psalm 92 tells us, "It is good to give thanks to the LORD . . . to declare Your lovingkindness in the morning and Your faithfulness by night." With a little effort, you can make Thanksgiving a cherished family time devoted to thanking God for what He has done in your lives.

One tradition we've kept for years is to have each family member write five things for which he or she is thankful. On our plates are five kernels of corn - a reminder of the Pilgrims' daily ration during one of their first difficult winters. Before we eat, we pass a basket around the table five times, and each person places one kernel of corn at a time into the basket and tells one thing he or she is thankful for.

Here are some of the things our children wrote one year:

•"I'm thankful for being able to have a family."
•"I'm thankful Ashley got to come home from college for Thanksgiving."
•"I'm thankful for God in my life."
•"I'm thankful for my ministry at my high school."
•"I'm thankful for my sisters and all they've taught me about relationships."
•"I'm thankful I got to shoot a deer!"
•"I'm thankful for a great brother."

Dennis and I were thrilled to hear the kids actually thank God for each other!

After so many years of sibling rivalry, they were finally beginning to show each other the affection we hoped would continue throughout their lives.

That year we also were touched by something our son Samuel wrote: "I'm thankful for my muscular dystrophy." He had been diagnosed with the disease earlier in the year, and we had been through some wrenching months.

Thanking God was a big step of faith for him. And it provided another sign that our children were learning the true spirit of Thanksgiving - a heart of gratitude that gives thanks in all things.

DISCUSS

How has God worked in your lives this past year?

PRAY

Spend time thanking God for His love, His provision and His work in your lives.

Source: Moments with You

Jesus' Prayer of Thanksgiving

by Henry Morris, Ph.D.

"In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight." (Luke 10:21)

We remember that, when the Lord Jesus was here on earth, He was, among other things, "leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps" (1 Peter 2:21). One aspect of that example, no doubt, was His prayer life. He prayed and gave thanks before He fed the multitude (Matthew 15:36) and also when He ate with His disciples at the last supper (Luke 22:19). It is surely right, therefore, that we should give thanks in prayer before each meal, whether in a small group as with our family, or in a large public dining place.

Jesus spent much time in prayer. On at least one occasion, He "continued all night in prayer to God" (Luke 6:12), and no doubt a goodly portion of His prayer was thanksgiving prayer, as well as intercession. But there seems to be only one specific item of thanksgiving by Him actually recorded in Scripture, and that is the item in our text. (The same is also given, verbatim, in Matthew 11:25, so we can infer that the Holy Spirit considered it very important.)

That is this: the wonderful truths of salvation and forgiveness -- eternal life in heaven and God's guidance and provision on earth -- are easily understood by the simplest among us, even by little children, even though they often seem difficult for "the wise and prudent" to comprehend.

Many are the intellectuals who can raise all kinds of objections to God's revealed Word and His great plan of creation and redemption and who, therefore, will end up eternally lost. Many are the simple folk and children who just hear and believe and are saved. "Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight." HMM

Source: Institute for Creation Research

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