Message from the Pastor

Rev. Sundar SamuelS

Dear Members and friends,

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” Psalms 103:2

Yes, it is that special time of year when the day
of Thanksgiving is observed. Can’t you feel the
great anticipation building here in the United
States of America as we prepare for this day? NOT HARDLY! Well, most likely we think, “just what do I have to be thankful for?” Granted, the Pilgrims had reason to offer thanks to God, but not in this dog-eat-dog, selfish world. Thanksgiving? No, Pastor, please get real.
As David Feddes, shares: “...for some of us, thanksgiving doesn’t come naturally. It doesn’t seem obvious why we should be saying thank you to God... Some of us, whether we admit it or not, are like Bart Simpson. In one episode of the The Simpsons, young Bart sits down with his family to a meal. When it’s his turn to pray and give thanks, he says something to this effect: Lord, my dad earned the money to pay for this food and my mom worked for hours to cook it, what did you do? Thanks a lot for nothing.” Bart Simpson is only a cartoon character, but he says what a lot of us are tempted to think.
Thanksgiving Day is a special holiday. It is a national holiday that is different from all others. On it, we do not celebrate a great victory in battle. Nor do we honor a great person who did a lot for other people; it is a day when we thank God for the blessings we, as a nation, enjoy.
Yes, even in sacred scripture, the biblical writer found it necessary to issue a corrective for the ingratitude found amongst his own people, as he writes “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits.” That’s right, only those who pause long enough to remember can be truly grateful. I find the Psalmist’s words directly speaking to me. It is not a word of condemnation, but a good word. Good words for those of us who can lose track of our blessings in the helter-skelter environment we find our-selves engulfed in. Good words for us who miss the daily grace in the breaking of the bread, in hands that help us and roofs that shelter us. Good words for us who forget that all we have is a gift from God.
Yes, cultivating and maintaining a GRATEFUL heart that continues to pulsate with thanksgiving, even in our trials, is a great challenge for the Christian. But it is worth the effort.
There is a story about the patient who went to his physician complaining of pain in several places. The doctor asked him to indicate where it hurt. He pointed then to his leg, then to his back, then to his side, finally to his head. “Every time I press on these places, it hurts.” After a careful examination, the physician diagnosed his problem. “You have a broken finger.”
You have a broken finger, when all the while, if you are like me, the focus was upon the places where he touched, his leg, his back, his side, his head; looking in the wrong direction.
Today I want you to consider how you might enjoy and find the way to thanksgiving and thankful living.
First, for thanksgiving to take place, we must focus in on the presence of God. Complaining of ingratitude about life is a perversion of our God-given nature. Yes, the Psalmist is correct when he instructs us to “forget not God’s benefits.” As Izaak Walton once said, “God has two dwellings: one in heaven and the other in a meek and thankful heart.”
Second, giving and helping others is a reflection of our heart to gratitude. We pass on God’s blessings. At a Thanksgiving dinner, one of the sons asks of his father, “Why do we always have turkey on Thanksgiving?” The father hesitantly answers, “Well…because it’s a tradition.” The son asks, “What’s tradition?” His brother interrupts to says “Something we’ve been doing so long that we can’t even remember why.” That’s the danger, isn’t it? That we will forget what Thanks-giving is all about?
Thanksgiving reminds us of the interdependence of person with person. Our need for one another. No person is an island. This is no lie. This is Biblical doctrine.
Third, as Maya Angelou says: “Giving liberates the soul of the Christian.” Now I believe that giving takes many different shapes.
Real Thanksgiving is found in a GRATEFUL HEART.
Real thanksgiving is found in expressing our thankfulness with others who are needy in our land. Real thanksgiving is found in having a personal, ongoing relationship with God in the per-son of Jesus Christ, who is our Savior and Lord.
However, my greatest reason for thanksgiving in every season is the fact the Almighty God, the one who is AWESOME and SOVEREIGN over the entire universe—desires to have a personal re-la ti on ship with me. God wants to set up residence in my heart.
When God does, like the Pilgrims, we know we are safe when we are close to our heavenly creator.
Look for thanksgiving in these places.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, Amen.

Pastor Sundar