Thanksgiving 2017

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love to eat and food is central to the day. I also love to give thanks for the abundant blessings I have. Some may want to debate the origins of our blessings, but I really appreciate king David’s prayer in 1 Chronicles 29. He was near the end of his life and his son Solomon was going to build the Temple for the Lord that David dreamed of. It is not just a prayer of thanks, it is a prayer of orientation. One that sets his, and consequently our, priorities aimed directly at the Creator of all things.

David’s Prayer

10David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly, saying,

“Praise be to you, Lord,
the God of our father Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.
11 Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power
and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,
for everything in heaven and earth is yours.
Yours, Lord, is the kingdom;
you are exalted as head over all.
12 Wealth and honor come from you;
you are the ruler of all things.
In your hands are strength and power
to exalt and give strength to all.
13 Now, our God, we give you thanks,
and praise your glorious name.

14 “But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand….”

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Ps 19:1

Do you see how David directs all his thanks and adoration to the Creator? And what was the result? “But who am I, and who are my people…?” Compared to the Almighty we are nothing, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) Our Creator has redeemed us fully and given us voices to thank Him for every breath we take.

I invite you to join me in taking a few minutes to jot down a few thoughts of thanksgiving. Think especially about how God is the author of all. Give thanks for life, the beauty of nature or whatever comes to you. And as we sit down to eat on Thanksgiving Day with family, friends or a turkey sandwich alone, remember the promise, “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” Psalm 27:13

A Litany Of The Person

– Anonymous Trappist Monk

A litany is a call and response prayer, and it can also be a long list. You may have heard of a litany of complaints. The litany I bring you today is a long list of how our Creator sees us. I also believe it is how our Creator wants us to see ourselves and others around us.

I encourage you to not race through it. Take some time to read it out loud, slowly. Maybe even do it more than once. Notice how you react to the different lines. Does it fit? Does it feel awkward or even like a lie? Maybe it helps you to breathe easier. When a line strikes you one way or the other, pause and ask Abba about it.

My prayer is for it to sink in. Abba, You are a multifaceted God and you have also made us in your image. There are many facets of truth here. Show us where and how you want each one of us to engage with you. Thank you for the invitation to know ourselves better. Thank you that this will also help us to know you better. May each person who reads this come away with the specific blessing they need for today. Amen

A Litany of the Person

– Anonymous Trappist Monk

 

image of God

born of God’s breath

vessel of divine Love

after his likeness

dwelling of God

capacity for the infinite

eternally known

chosen of God

home of the Infinite Majesty

abiding in the Son

called from eternity

life in the Lord

temple of the Holy Spirit

branch of Christ

receptacle of the Most High

wellspring of Living Water

heir of the kingdom

the glory of God

abode of the Trinity.

God sings this litany

eternally in his Word.

This is who you are.

Source: (from the Abbey of Gethsemani)

I Can Never Get Away From Your Presence!

Psalm 139 tells us a lot about ourselves, and about our Creator. When I was preparing to move to Africa in 1980, I came across Psalm 139 and was struck by many things, but perhaps most of all by this declaration by the psalmist to God: I can never get away from your presence!” Honestly, I was a tiny bit fearful as a young twenty something to trust it would all be OK. On the flip side, I was excited to test out some of these promises. [emphasis mine]

I can never escape from your Spirit!
    I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
    if I go down to the grave, you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
    if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    and your strength will support me.
11 I could ask the darkness to hide me
    and the light around me to become night—
12     but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
    Darkness and light are the same to you.

Darkness and light are the same to you.

A few decades later and well over a million airline miles, I can confidently say these promises are true!

Though I have not been to Heaven or the grave, verse 8 reminds me how my son literally drowned in a half bucket of mop water at 6 months old and miraculously survived to thrive. It was not pleasant or easy, but I found out what it meant to be buoyed up by the prayers of others. I maintained a deep sense if the presence of God through it all.

From verse 9, I have flown on the wings of the morning many times over the years. Watching the sun rise from 35,000 feet is beautiful. I have watched the sun set just before sunset, then taken off to see it “rise” again. We chase it west a while, but it is faster than we are so it sets a second time. These opportunities help me experience the wonder of our Creator and His creation. He is there.

I started to count the oceans I’ve dwelt by, if even for a few days, but it’s easier to say I have found the presence of God on five continents. Not to say anything about me, but rather of our Makers ability to meet needs and hear prayers from any corner of the planet.

What about the darkness in verses 11 & 12? My photo is a feeble attempt to capture the idea that regardless of our  interpretation of our situation. There is another reality than the one we see with our eyes. The light from the one who both imagined and created light by saying, “let there be light, and there was light” is able to able to see us in the dark and is with us in the dark. This is because it is never really as dark as we might think it is.

How do we experience the presence of God in our “darkness?” We ask and we look. It is amazing what we can ‘see’ when begin to ask to see it, then look for it. Since I discovered these verses decades ago, I have put them to the test many times. Through many events that initially felt dark and overwhelming, when I slowed down to look and listen, I can safely say I have never been disappointed.