Pastor Mark at the Santa Barbara Franciscan Mission with two Canadian Pastor friends – John Paul and Matt
The happiest people I know are people of thanksgiving. No, not pilgrims with the groovy hats, but people who give thanks in all circumstances. Giving thanks is not determined by what is going on around us, but by what is going on inside us – by what the Spirit of God is stirring within us. The Spirit reminds us of who we are, whose we are and what Jesus Christ has done for us. In response, we give thanks.
This year, more than most, I’ve been visiting with friends about their plans for this week with their extended family and I will get one of two responses:
1. Pray for me, I don’t know if I can get through this with those (insert other ideological viewpoint here)
2. The wide-eyed emoji face letting me know that even though they can’t say it, they are dreading what is meant to be a day of celebration and giving thanks to God.
Here are two scriptures and a prayer to ponder:
1. Joshua 1:9, “Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid or dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” This is true even with the in-laws!
(Joke: Do you know the difference between in-laws and outlaws? Outlaws are wanted.)
2. Luke 22:19, Jesus “took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
This scene brings me to tears. Jesus with his closest friends – knowing in a few hours he will be arrested, stripped, beaten and crucified – gave thanks! In this moment, he served others, gave thanks to God and told his followers to never forget his love for them. You are never more like Jesus than when you give thanks. It is his character.
So, if you get called on or have the opportunity to pray over, give thanks or bless the Thanksgiving meal, I hope you will say yes. I’ve included one of my favorite prayers attributed to St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226). I think this prayer is needed as much today as ever.
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sorrow, joy.
Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved, as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying that we are born to Eternal life.