Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving wishes

One of my peak spiritual experiences came when I volunteered with United for Peace and Justice to work at a big anti-war march. It was planned before the Iraq invasion but took place just after the armed conflict began. Through the random (or Spirit-led) workings of their fairly-anarchic organization, I got assigned to the security detail. About twenty people stationed on Broadway in the lower 20s with plastic tubs and sacks, and one guy with a bullhorn asking for donations to support the work and the next march.

Surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, there was little need for actual security to guard the money, what I mostly did was thanked people. "Thank you for coming out today!" "You folks are awesome!" shouted a few hundred times, to some subset of the 250,000+ people who filed by.

I can scarcely tell you how good I felt doing that.

At the closing of what is probably his earliest letter in the Bible, St. Paul urges his friends "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

He does not say we should be thankful for everything. There is not much rejoicing to be found because of illness, job loss, or the many other things we go through which are cause for struggle. However - in every situation, if we look with the eyes of faith, we will find signs of grace. Even the realization that "things could be worse" is an opportunity for thanksgiving.

This year we have much to be thankful for, and I hope you will be able to remember and lift up some of those things in the midst of your holiday observance.

May God bless and keep you. May God see you safe through every storm. And may, at the end, you find welcome, and peace, and homecoming - reasons to give thanks.
 

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