Thursday, November 19, 2009

What am I most grateful for this Thanksgiving?

During this season of Thanksgiving, there are many things one may recount as noteworthy items to be grateful for. Some usual, more typical notions of life, health, family and friends among others may come to mind. However, as I further contemplate what elicits gratitude in my heart this morning, a most singular thought occurred. If you had to name one thing, just one thing you would give thanks for, what might that one thing be? I wondered as I wandered on the way today, asking myself in the Lord's presence at this very moment, "What am I most grateful for?"

Now, the way the mind works sometimes, it could either go through a number of tangential paths, following some rabbit trails, perusing through a few strawberry patches and smelling the flowers along the way. Or it could suddenly turn quite focused, set in a single direction, determined to press forward on a particular trajectory. In a few moments, the latter alternative became my own experience. It wasn't long before I found myself wanting to draw upon foundational tenets of personal conviction from past spiritual growth and development, and theological formation in my own journey of faith.

In the liturgical calendar of the Revised Common Lectionary, this Sunday in November, just before Thanksgiving is designated for the celebration of the reign of Christ the King. It marks the end of the liturgical year, culminating in the observance of Christ's kingdom and rule over all, with an eye toward Jesus' coming in Advent. From a Christian, reformed perspective, standing in the stream of a tradition with a high view of the sovereignty of God, this is cause for great celebration! The fact that God rules, the truth that Jesus is Lord, and the certainty of the Spirit's reigning presence among us, along with the sure hope and promise of Christ the King's return in glory—That's all too awesome for even the slightest exuberance in this expressed personality to be contained.

In this vein, one might begin to surmise that this is the one thing I am most thankful for. To be sure, the idea that God is in control can indeed be a strong source of comfort for us no matter what situation we may encounter. A deeper probing of the heart reveals a more personal, profound sense of gratitude. When I read God's love letter to me in Scripture, I find myself giving thanks mostly for the words I hear the Spirit of Jesus saying to me through the Gospel of John (15:16). "You did not choose me, but I chose you…" The Lord God Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, Creator of all including my own very being, chose me! To know and be known as the Lord's, to love and be loved by the Lord, to choose and most of all to be chosen by my Lord and Savior—That continually abiding experience of God is what I am most profoundly thankful for today. As the lyrics of the song "Knowing You" written by worship leader Graham Kendrick goes, "Knowing You, Jesus, knowing You… There is no greater thing. You're my all, You're the best! And I love you, Lord." I give thanks most of all for You!

Beloved, what are you most grateful for today? In words similar to the apostle, Paul's letter to the saints in Ephesus, I pray that you and your loved ones know this love that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. May you know the Lord's blessings anew in Thanksgiving!