19 11 2012

Thanksgiving is here! I love this holiday more than the others mostly because of its pure simplicity. It is a day with no other purpose but to be grateful! Thanksgiving Day is an opportunity to stop complaining about what we don’t have and it is a divine invitation to join the dance of celebration over the blessings that we have been given. Sure, they are gifts that can’t always be measured in monetary means or via their weight or volume- but they are those lovely intangibles that genuinely make us all who we need to be and impact us at a depth of soul satisfaction that no “thing” could ever accomplish! Gratitude is a platitude of the most attractive of attitudes!

Saying “Thank you” is one of the first sentences most parents teach their children. Whenever something is given to a child, one is almost certain to hear a mother exhort her little tyke, “What do you say?” Even to this day, I still want to correct adults who receive a service or are given a gift or a favor with no reply at all! Does it require that much energy to express a little appreciation? Even the Bible tells us that a cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. At a quick glance, it isn’t easy to miss the fact that there are way too many dry bones occupying our horizon these days! We could use a little less debt- and a little more indebtedness to all good gifts that come our way on any given day!

And that brings up a great question for examination especially after Super storm Sandy has been our way this Fall. What is it that officially designates a true “Blessing?” Is a “Blessing” a person- a place- or a thing? I have heard many people say that we here in Cape May County were “blessed” because we dodged a bullet when that catastrophe came flying our way into our town but didn’t do the destruction it did in areas just miles from us! Does that mean that the people up the road were not “blessed?” Did God love us more because we aren’t “gutting” our homes like those in Mystic Island are? Or maybe we just don’t have a very good handle on “blessings” after all.

I have recently been part of relief teams with a wonderful organization called Operation Blessing that have gone a few miles up the Garden State Parkway into those neighborhoods where almost every possession that a person owned is now currently being bulldozed along the curb out front to make its new home in a trash dumpster! If blessings are only what we own- then these people could surely proclaim that they were overlooked this Thanksgiving Season! Many are at a point where even in their elderly years now- they are forced to start from scratch! This is where maybe we need to redefine and reprioritize what we call all good gifts from God above! If it could all be gone in an hour- then maybe it is not worth living for! But a soul cannot be destroyed in a storm! Actually- because of our Lord’s divine intervention- those trials and tribulations that we run into on this planet earth can actually bring out the best in a grateful heart! It isn’t until you realize that you are not what you own- and your value is not measured by how high your pile of toys goes up- and that even when you do not have a penny to your name- you are still worth more than pure gold to God that you actually begin to understand what the secret of life is all about!

Blessings are more intangible than store bought! Blessings are in the form of body and blood and soul and spirit! Life is what life is all about! If it doesn’t breathe- it is not worth loving and living for! Relationships are what matter most! Everything God has ever done has been driven by His unconditional love for us! He doesn’t abandon us in the bad weather of this environment. Even Jesus went through hell for us so that he didn’t have to go to heaven without us! Nothing can separate you from a love like that! And it is that kind of love we all need a little more of! Love that comes into the pit with a fellow neighbor and without words- allows that individual to lean on him and fall into his arms and just cry! And after the tears- the two look up rather than look around and we realize that if our hearts are still beating- then there is still a specific purpose to get out of bed each day and unwrap the gifts that are still to be found in the midst of the mud and the manure and the mess that wants to take center stage! But don’t be deceived! God has planted a bouquet for you to be encouraged by in the midst of the desert! God still has a song of hope for you in the midst of the howling winds and the rising tides! Through it all- the Lord stands by our side and for that company- the beautiful faces of the people in our lives- the strangers that are only strange because we haven’t taken the time yet to learn their names and hear their stories- if we just find out that the blessings are the bodies that are all around us- we can still all be a thankful congregation!

So we gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing; He chastens and hastens his will to make known.
He forgets not his own. Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining, ordaining, maintaining his kingdom divine! So from the beginning the fight we are winning; Our Lord is right at our side, all glory belongs to him! And while we are not exempt from every tribulation- we know that the blessings within our congregation are not what we hold in our hands- but the actuality that He holds us firmly within his and he doesn’t have butterfingers! He never ever lets us go! And for that_ I am eternally and truly thankful!



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