Word of the Month

A culture of gratitude

October 2010

“Oh, give thanks to the Lord” – many psalms begin with these words (e.g. Psalms 106, 107). Giving thanks to the Lord is also the focus of our divine service celebrations during this time of year as we approach Thanksgiving.

The psalmist in our Bible text praises the Lord “according to His righteousness” (cf. Psalm 7: 17). In this context, God’s righteousness is brought to expression in His consistency, that is, in the faithfulness and loyalty He demonstrates. This understanding of righteousness is associated with the fact that the Lord has made a covenant.

After the flood the Lord made a covenant with Noah: “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease” (cf. Genesis 8: 22). In other words, all the conditions of the natural creation which make life possible and which provide us with sustenance will continue.

Allow me to apply this statement to our celebration of Thanksgiving: for as long as the earth remains, the equilibrium of the earthly creation will remain intact. God will see to it that seed and harvest also continue so that we can continue to give thanks for it. Therein we see His consistency and faithfulness. Nowadays global warming is a big issue. We know that the equilibrium in nature is no longer very stable. Human activity causes it to be disrupted. However this equilibrium must be maintained, since natural life would otherwise be in jeopardy. That is exactly what the Lord promises in His covenant with Noah. He will keep this covenant in His loyalty and faithfulness, which stem from His righteousness: while the earth remains, seedtime and harvest will not cease. As long as the earth stands, this equilibrium will remain intact. There has never been any change to this in the past. We can still nourish ourselves just as we always have. The Lord continues to provide for us just as He always has. The earth produces enough food for everyone. The fact that there is still hunger in this world is merely the result of distribution problems. But there is enough for everyone. It is already astounding to observe this equilibrium of God at work, and to see how faithful He is in keeping His promise. That is one of the favours of God for which we are to give thanks to the Lord on Thanksgiving Day.

The favours of God are not merely limited to the earthly gifts which the Lord grants us and which we symbolically lay before the altar in many places. The favours of God also include the blessing that is ours when we have fellowship with the Most High and the angel protection we enjoy that makes us feel so secure. These favours also include the warmth and joy we enjoy in the fellowship of God’s children.

For my part I hope that there is a culture of gratitude among God’s people. Let us – particularly on Thanksgiving Day, but also at all other times – express our thanks to the Lord for His favours be they the natural kind such as our daily bread, or the spiritual kind such as His blessing and His protection.

(From a divine service by the Chief Apostle)