By Bishop Jonathan Holston
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
Bishop Woodie White tells a story of a new pharmacy that was being built in his community.
He celebrated the new business for its proximity to the community. Instead of driving miles and miles for service, these basic needs were now within walking distance.
One particular day, he drove home, passed this welcomed addition to the community and was bewildered. He knew there had been another building on the very lot that this new pharmacy now stood. Several days later, he remembered and was saddened. He remembered that a church was the building that had stood for years on that property.
He was stunned. How could a place of worship, where the presence of God was celebrated and the faith practiced, close and be demolished without anyone taking notice? After much thought, he said, We simply forgot.
We are constantly reminded that we are flawed people and often forget Gods place in our lives.
Forgetfulness is a consistent theme of our faith. Who is not stunned, dumbfounded and flabbergasted after reading the story of David and Bathsheba? We have the great King David who brought the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem with much fanfare. This is King David who had seen the power, might and presence of God with his own eyes. Then a simple walk on the roof made him forget all of that.
These are the storylines of soap opera fare; namely, misplaced localities, arrogance and deception. David simply forgot Gods action in his life.
Jesus disciples are no different than David. The crowds struggle to follow Jesus and experience his extraordinary ministry. In one particular situation, the day grew long, the crowd grew hungry and the disciples grew fearful. The situation was obvious to them that feeding this multitude would be next to impossible. No matter what they saw Jesus do or heard him teach, they seemed to forget. While the message of Jesus feeding of thousands amazes us, as well as the disciples, these disciples simply forgot Gods actions in Christ done in their presence.
Likewise, Thanksgiving is no mere holiday. It is an annual reminder to thank God for the special things in life. When family and friends gather for a festive feast, it is this shared practice of giving thanks that helps us guard against the kind of forgetting that lulls us into thinking we have accumulated our blessings by our own power or that they will always be present. To cultivate thanksgiving as a practice of our faith helps us resist that kind of forgetfulness. It allows us to turn our hearts toward God and develop a habit of giving thanks. In fact, it is an act of restoring our soul and renewing a right spirit within us!
In my first appointment, I met an elderly man who restored neglected and damaged furniture. His shop was filled with all kinds of wood and cane, as well as the amazing rack of tools that hung on the walls. He seemed too feeble for all of this hard work. I found it amazing watching him work with this tremendous ability to restore such damaged goods. He would simply say that his joy came from saving these precious keepsakes for others to experience. He was simply restoring the beauty that over time may have been forgotten.
Friends, after all the activity in the kitchen on this blessed day of Thanksgiving, we will gather as individuals and as community to sit down to a feast of entrees, main courses, and desserts. As we await this rendezvous of tradition, may we never forget that God is with us and is graciously restoring the spirit of giving thanks in all of us.