“O give thanks to the LORD, call on his name, make known his deeds among the peoples.”
– 1 Chronicles 16:8
Driving along rural roads in Illinois, one starts to see two sure signs that the seasons are indeed changing – the leaves are beginning to show their brilliant colors, and the farmers are busy in the field bringing in the harvest.
These rhythms of the year are also found in the festivals and offerings described in the Bible, as Rev. Cheri talked about on October 20. As the people of Israel planted and harvested the land, they were not only to bring in a portion of the first fruits from their fields, but to present them to the priests while telling the story of God’s faithfulness and love: “A wandering Aramean was my ancestor… so now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground that you, O LORD, have given me.” (Deuteronomy 26:5,10)
It’s not that God needed the grain or animals (remember, the offerings went to care for those who had no fields or ability to work them; the Levites who had no land, the foreigners among them, the orphans and widows). But notice how the act of giving along with the telling of the story helped people remember God’s grace (providing the harvest, and in bringing them to this place), and the implications of that grace – extending compassion and care for those who needed help, so that everyone could eat and rejoice together before the LORD.
These habits of life are meant to reinforce something simple but essential; being rooted in gratitude, remembering God’s presence and provision and living our lives in response to that.
Gratitude is not always easy. As I write this, I know of many people I hold dear who are facing enormous challenges and heart-wrenching situations. In such times, gratitude is not putting on a smile and pretending that everything is just fine. Sometimes gratitude is choosing to remember the past in order to hold on to the faith that our present circumstances are not the last word, trusting that God is present and working here and now whether we sense it in the moment or not, and anticipating the revealing of God’s future where, as Julian of Norwich said: “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”
In 1 Chronicles 16:8-36, we find a psalm calling us to praise God, to rejoice and to share the stories of God’s work. It is no accident that in the same breath, we find the invitation to seek God’s strength and salvation, along with remembering what God has done.
In times of plenty and when joy is easy, and when the road is hard; may we remember what God has done for us, and give God thanks – as an act of worship and as an act in which God shapes us to meet each day with the knowledge of God’s presence and work. May we join with the Apostle Paul, who said: “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Blessings on the Journey,