Saint James Anglican Church

Joseph Howe Drive at the Armdale Rotary, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada             


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Thanksgiving 2004

 

"The Lord has done great things for us, and we are glad indeed." --Ps.126:4

 

Is this the end, or is it just the beginning? For many people, Harvest Thanksgiving is a holiday that marks the end of a season. It is time to think about the end of the growing season and getting the vegetables out of the garden. It is time to put up preserves after the summer, time to close up the camp or cottage for the winter. However, the Thanksgiving weekend is a bench mark for both the end and new beginnings. Thanksgiving is usually the first holiday of the new school year. Church organizations and programs are up and running by Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving finds people once again ensconced in their regular pattern of activities at school, work, and church. All moments of thanksgiving, in fact, have the sense of the cyclical, a turning of the wheel of time, about them. To give thanks is to embrace what has been given and to ponder that which is to come. The harvest is gathered from the field with gladness and rejoicing; but the empty fields lay in stark anticipation of the spring planting to come.

 

The psalmist applied this kind of insight to Godís dealings with His people:

Then they said among the nations,

"The Lord has done great things for them"

The Lord has done great things for us,

and we are glad indeed.

Restore our fortunes, O Lord

like the water courses of the Negev. --Ps. 126:3-5 (B.A.S.)

 

The writer of Psalm 126 offers up a prayer that is both thankful and hopeful even in the midst of anxiety and concern. Foreign nations are reminded that the people of God once enjoyed a time of providence. A faithful people long for God to restore their national fortunes, to bring back times of justice, peace, and prosperity. The past is recalled with thanksgiving, and with an eye to a hopeful future. As surely as a dry and arid land are renewed with rain each season, so will the future be marked by renewed relationship with God.

 

Offering up prayers of thanksgiving to God is one of the hall marks of a healthy spiritual life. It connects our past and our present with Godís future for us. There is a lovely Thanksgiving litany in the B.A.S. (p.128) which allows us to connect the cosmic dots of our life as people of God. It bids us pray for "the beauty and wonder of creation, for our daily food, for our homes and families and friends, for health, strength, and skill to work and for leisure to rest and play, for those who are brave and courageous, patient in suffering and faithful in adversity, for all who pursue peace, justice, and truth, for all the saints whose lives have reflected the light of Christ." Every time we gather for worship, but especially at Thanksgiving time, our worship should allow us to recall the blessings of our life and look to the days ahead with a resounding "We thank you, Lord".

 

The Rev. Canon Rod Gillis Harvest, 2004