We have entered into the holiday season. Halloween is past, Thanksgiving is around the corner, and the stores are full of the reds and greens of Christmas. This is the time of year when we tend to think about what has happened in the past year, what has happened in previous holiday seasons. As the holiday reminds us, it is a time for thanks giving.
We just celebrated and remembered the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. With so much emphasis on Martin Luther over the last month, my mind has found itself wandering to my time in the Lutheran Church in my youth and young adult years. When I was confirmed, at Central Lutheran Church, one of the requirements was to have Luther's Small Catechism memorized. I don't have it memorized at this point, but its words still influence me greatly.
In his discussion of the Lord's Prayer, Luther speaks about the good things that God gives us in our “daily bread”. In this season of giving thanks, that list could also be a list of what we are to give thanks for. Luther lists food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, homestead, field, cattle, money, goods, a pious spouse, pious children, pious servants, pious and faithful magistrates, good government, good weather, peace, health, discipline, honor, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.
There are things he listed that speak to me, and others that seem less pertinent. Do I really have the discipline or health that I want? Do I always consider my children, spouse, friends or neighbors to be “good” much less pious (whatever I might imagine that means)? Some days, maybe especially in the political environment of division and infighting, it might seem like hard to give thanks for government systems. Yet we are called not only to give thanks for them, but also on behalf of them.
Giving thanks for someone, whether we personally find them to be a blessing or burden, forces us into a position of humility, and requires us to remember that those people, too, are children of God, made in the image of God. The people sitting in the halls of government, and the people gathered around your Thanksgiving table. Even if they make us crazy. Even if they don’t think like we do. Even if they won’t pass the gravy quickly enough. They are, each and every one of them, someone for whom Christ lived and died. For whom Christ was raised. The good news of Jesus the Christ is for each and every one of them.
Thanks be to God!