Thanksgiving 2020

Canadian Thanksgiving

Did you know that Thanksgiving was celebrated in Canada 43 years before the American Thanksgiving? For more interesting Canadian Thanksgiving history tid-bits, click here.

Thanksgiving and COVID-19

The apostle Paul, writing to the Christians in Thessalonica, exhorted them to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). As we face all kinds of the troubles, tragedies, conflicts, divisions, injustices and sufferings in the world, how do we give thanks in all circumstances? With the coronavirus claiming the lives of so many people, and the number of cases increasing—in some places far too rapidly—daily, how can we celebrate Thanksgiving? It may be appropriate to celebrate Thanksgiving this year by offering a time and space to lament, grieve and mourn our losses—especially the deaths of loved ones, friends, neighbours and colleagues. Hopefully we can give thanks to God for the multiple ways these significant others influenced and inspired our lives. Hopefully too, we can commend them into God’s eternal care.

Pastor Martin Rinkhart, an inspiring example of faithfulness

One of my favourite thanksgiving stories provides some inspiration in that direction.

Martin Rinkhart was a Lutheran pastor in Eilenburg, Saxony, Germany during the Thirty Years’ War, 1618-1648. As the story goes, he was the only surviving clergyperson in 1636 or 1637, when a major pestilence afflicted the town which was so crowded with refugees and so ravaged with plague, disease, and famine that sometimes as many as 50 funerals were held in one day. Among those buried that year was Rinkhart’s own beloved wife.

Yet, in the midst of such difficult circumstances Pastor Rinkhart wrote the beautiful hymn, “Now Thank We All Our God.” According to one tradition, Rinkhart based this hymn on Sirach 50:22: “Now bless the God of all, who everywhere works great wonders.” Another tradition suggests that it was originally written as a table grace for his family. In any case, the hymn was well received in Germany and has been sung on such special occasions as the signing of the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, and the completion of the Cologne cathedral.

Although Rinkhart had suffered much and his family, friends, parishioners and townspeople had suffered much, he was still able to offer God his thanks and praise.

A Thanksgiving exercise

As an exercise in thanksgiving, you may either individually or as a family wish to write down a list from A to Z, of all the blessings God has given each of you and then prayerfully offer your praise and thanks. You may even consider doing this each day or week or month, rather than only once a year at Thanksgiving. This exercise may also motivate you to pursue moving your thanking into acts of loving-kindness in response to what God has given you.

If the spirit moves you to share your Thanksgiving list with yours truly and other blog readers below as a comment, that would be wonderful. Thank you in advance for the same! 🙂

Those two words, Thank You, can make so much difference in so many ways!