Dear Partners in Mission:
This week we celebrate our national day of Thanksgiving. While such a holiday was intermittently celebrated prior to 1863 it was President Lincoln who declared it should happen annually on the last Thursday of November. Worth noting is Lincoln established this day of Thanksgiving in the same month in which he delivered the Gettysburg address. In the midst of a terrible war that had split the nation, with much suffering and violence to come, Lincoln still declared that we should take time to give thanks and “fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation.”
Thanksgiving 2021 comes to us in a time of great division and discord as well in our nation. We have seen and experienced conflict over pandemic response, vaccines, race, gender, gun violence, human sexuality, and many other issues. These conflicts have divided our congregations, communities, schools, workplaces and even families. The pandemic has brought economic hardship to many while also seeing others reach historical levels of wealth. Cracks that have always existed in our society have been widened and made ever more visible. We are so inundated with bad news that “doomscrolling” has become a thing.
The truth of all of this can seem overwhelming. Yet we as Lutherans are people of Law and Gospel. The law that speaks the truth about our human situation. Looking at Thanksgiving through these eyes then we acknowledge the truth. We can speak honestly about the brokenness and sin in ourselves and our society. A clear example being celebrating Thanksgiving while at the same time being honest about the systemic genocide of indigenous peoples in our nation made all the more clear though the tragedy of the boarding schools. A tragedy in which the church is complicit.
This indeed can seem overwhelming but into this truth then also comes the gospel. The “good news” which proclaims the promise that God in Christ is yet for us. That God’s abundance and provision are given to us freely as daily bread and we are to receive it with thanksgiving. That when, as we were reminded last Sunday, Christ is our King then the world and its powers are not. We can see that there is enough, cease our continual grasping after more, let go of “doomscrolling,” and remembering our baptism begin each day anew as disciples called to serve and proclaim this good news living for our neighbors. To continue to work toward Lincoln’s hope that the wounds of our nation could be healed.
This thanksgiving I pray that whether you gather at a table with many or of one you are reminded again that God is with you and for you. That God’s abundant life has been given to you in Christ Jesus and you are to receive your daily bread with thanksgiving. That when we acknowledge the wounds we have God can and will heal them. Inviting us to new ways of life, community, and hope.