KDs are designed/developed/inspired/mused/auto-suggested/indigested to make folks think; an especially uncommon experience among Democrats, Republicans, and jingoistic mainline denominationalists who continue to discourage dissent with their ever-threatening thought police.
“Give thanks in everything…Thank God no
matter what happens.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18
Ordained in its sanctuary on May 8,
1977, I preached at the Forty Fort United Presbyterian Church on November 25,
I hadn’t preached there in over four
So many memories.
David Meeker and I used to fill in the
o’s in the bulletin to make it through the services.
Mrs. Mante would march into the
service with children in tow within seconds of the call to worship; preparing
me for worshippers who must feel it’s rude to be on time.
Her husband who endured me in
Confirmation Class before enduring David and me working on our God and Country
Award as part of Danny Evans’ Troop 122 before guiding me through college and
seminary to ordination always yelled out, “Blessings on you! Keep the faith!” When I asked Rev. Mante what he meant by
that, he said with a smile, “I want God to bless you even though you don’t deserve
it and I want you to stay faithful in gratitude for those blessings.”
Then there was Miss Grace Blanchard
who taught a boys only Sunday School class until she was 104 and convinced me
that retirement is only for those who can’t or won’t
anymore. She’d say once a month, “O.K.,
boys, today is SOS Sunday! Same old
Today, they have a wonderfully
faithful pastor, The Rev. William Lukesh, who is a part of the remnant still
believing in Jesus by the book. I am so
thankful for him being my parents’ pastor.
Not long after ordination, I went to
New Jersey as pastor of Clark’s Osceola Presbyterian Church. Aside from the officers, staff, and
membership only being rivaled by our family of faith on the corner of Lincoln
and Main when it comes to loving Jesus, loving America, and praying and working
to make America Godly again, there were two sacred moments that have
shaped my undershepherding-to-the-Good-Shepherd ministry.
The first was a meeting of clergy and
rabbis about the uproar generated by a local public library that put a manger
scene in front of its lawn sign from just before Thanksgiving to just after
Not long after the meeting started, I
got up and said, “We’ve got to be honest before we’re going to get anywhere on
this. We’ve got an irreconcilable
difference in this room. Christian
clergy believe Jesus is Lord and rabbis don’t.”
An old rabbi stood after I spoke and
said, “My young Christian friend is right and I’ll be damned if he’s
right. But I’m betting my soul that
he’s wrong just as much as he’s betting his soul that he’s right.”
It cleared the air and we negotiated
The second shaping moment occurred
during the Community Thanksgiving Service at the Cranford Presbyterian Church
Because I was the new kid in town, I
had to preach.
With rabbis and other non-Christians
present, I said, “Well, I’m all for Thanksgiving as a national holiday. I love America and what we stand for. I like health and wealth and all of that
stuff. But everybody knows health and
wealth and even our country could disappear overnight. So I guess I’m going to reserve my highest
thanksgiving for eternal life by grace through faith in Jesus that can never be
taken away from us and helps us to overcome anything that life throws at us.”
It was a big hit with the Christians
Come to think of it, I was never
invited to preach at another community service.
Can you guess why?
Well, I haven’t changed over the
I still love the advantages of living
in America with so many freedoms and opportunities and those Bill of Rights.
I’m glad Massachusetts Governor
William Bradford made that first Thanksgiving Proclamation back in 1623:
“Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest…spared
us from pestilence and disease…granted us freedom to worship God…listen to ye
pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.”
I’m glad President George Washington
proclaimed November 26 as a National Day of Thanksgiving in response to God’s
granting American independence from the English.
I’m glad President Abraham Lincoln
revived the national observance of Thanksgiving in 1863.
I’m glad the United States Congress
sealed the deal in 1941 and decreed the 4th Thursday in November as
a national day of Thanksgiving to God from whom all blessings flow.
Pero I know Thanksgiving is
shallow if it’s just about heath, wealth, nationalism, and other stuff that can
become dust in the wind so quickly.
Thanksgiving only means something if
its about Someone who provides an eternal cause for praise and thanks that no
one nor no thing can take away from us.
No matter what happens to us in time,
we have cause to praise and thank God for eternal life in paradise by grace
through faith in Jesus that lasts infinitely longer than any accumulation or
advantage fixed in time.
That’s why Paul wrote, “Give thanks in
everything…Thank God no matter what happens.”
No matter what happens in time, it
No matter what happens in time, it
does not change our heavenly inheritance by grace through faith in Jesus.
Paul was right: “I consider that our
present sufferings…[or treasures that expire when time’s up!]…are not worth
comparing with the glory that will be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).
While I may be wrong but wouldn’t say
it if I thought I could be wrong, it seems to make a lot more sense to praise
and thank God for eternity with Him in paradise than 70 or 80 or even over 100
years of the best that life affords.
I spent a week with Eugene Peterson
back in October 2011.
I’ll never forget how he said, “Churches
don’t need motivational speakers because you don’t have to motivate
Well, Eugene went home to Jesus on
October 22, 2018.
Not long before graduating, his son
Eric asked how he felt about having only a few months left on earth; and Eugene
said with that calming, certain, and infectious smile, “I feel good about
I am reminded of how David Redding
explained our blessed assurance: “Anyone who feels sorry for a dead Christian,
as though the poor chap were missing something, is himself missing the
transfiguring promotion involved.”
So, yes, let’s celebrate Thanksgiving.
Let’s eat turkey and stuffing and
cranberry relish and watch football until our eyes are glazed and we drift off
Most of all, while praising and thanking
God for every blessing in time, let’s reserve our highest praise and thanks for
the ultimate blessing of faith in Jesus.
By grace through faith in Jesus,
everybody goes home for thanksgiving.
Blessings and Love! @#$% Wake up! Look up! Stand up! Speak up! Act up for Jesus! Shatter the sound of silence! Salt! Shine! Leavenate!