Have a grateful Thanksgiving

I hope you have a meaningful Thanksgiving, with the thankful part not overshadowed by shopping, football, gluttony, family spats, or other distractions.  Towards that end, this special edition of the Cranach blog will offer some meditations about things we really should be thankful for.  Remember that comment made by someone–Chesterton?  It sounds like Chesterton.  Please source it in the comments if you know who it was–to the effect that one of the sad parts of being an atheist is feeling thankful, without having anyone to thank. As for Christians, we do know Whom to thank and must never take even the commonest of His blessings for granted.  [Read more...]

The blessings of prosperity

Right now, people who lack health insurance and need a government subsidy to pay for it are being asked to sign up for the program on their computers.  Think of that.   It can be assumed that even those who need financial assistance have computers. Even us ordinary folks have a standard of living that goes far beyond what kings had not that long ago. [Read more...]

When to fast and when to feast

Walter Isaacson has written a fascinating column about Ben Franklin’s view of America.  He quotes from an essay Franklin wrote about Thanksgiving.  I have never heard this detail about the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving.  Perhaps it’s apocryphal.  But still, it reminds us of a common confusion and perhaps can give us perspective on other things that make us feel gloomy:

Franklin’s optimism about the American experiment is reflected in an essay he wrote about our first Thanksgiving. The early settlers, “their minds gloomy and discontented,” frequently fasted to seek relief from their distress, he recounted. Just when they were about to declare another day of fasting, “a farmer of plain sense” pointed out that “the inconveniences they suffered, and concerning which they had so often wearied heaven with their complaints, were not so great.” Instead of another fast, the farmer argued, they should have a feast to give thanks. Writing a century later — in 1785, a period when both the economy and political system looked fragile, rather like the present — Franklin assured his fellow citizens that thanksgiving was still warranted. “Let us take a cool view of the general state of our affairs, and perhaps the prospect will appear less gloomy than has been imagined,” he wrote.

via Walter Isaacson: The America Ben Franklin saw – The Washington Post.

The true meaning of Thanksgiving

 

I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my limbs, my reason, and all my senses, and still preserves them; in addition thereto, clothing and shoes, meat and drink, house and homestead, wife and children, fields, cattle, and all my goods; that He provides me richly and daily with all that I need to support this body and life, protects me from all danger, and guards me and preserves me from all evil; and all this out of pure, fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me; for all which I owe it to Him to thank, praise, serve, and obey Him. This is most certainly true.

via First Article of the Creed. The Small Catechism – Book of Concord

God “has given me. . .meat and drink. . .and all my goods,” as well as family, protection, and “all that I need.”  And He “has given me. . .all my senses,” so that it is fitting that we savor, enjoy, and take delight in our Thanksgiving Feast.  “For all which I owe it to Him to thank, praise, serve, and obey Him.”

Gratitude, the Parent of All Virtues

You’ve got to read Mollie Hemingway’s column on gratitude in Christianity Today. Excerpts:

Appearing on Conan O’Brien’s show last year, comedian Louis C. K. lamented how frustrated people get when cell phones and cross-country flights are slow or faulty. “Everything is amazing right now and nobody’s happy,” he said. When people complain that their flight boarded 20 minutes late or that they had to sit on the runway for 40 minutes before takeoff, he asks a few additional questions.

“Oh really, what happened next? Did you fly through the air, incredibly, like a bird? Did you partake in the miracle of human flight?”

The appearance hit a nerve—with over a million YouTube views and counting—because it’s true: Whether it’s our impatience with technology or, more likely, with family members and friends, our complaints reflect how much we take for granted.

We know that God has given us our bodies and souls, reason and senses, material possessions, and relationships. Yet with all that God richly provides us daily, many of us struggle to be grateful. . . .

The Roman philosopher Cicero was on to something when he said, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.” It’s also the basic Christian attitude. Paul tells the Thessalonians to “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:18).

That might seem a challenge during a season of economic trouble and political unrest. But consider German pastor Martin Rinckart, who served a town that became a refuge for political and military fugitives during the Thirty Years War. The situation in Eilenburg was bad even before the Black Plague arrived in 1637. One pastor fled. Rinckart buried another two on the same day. The only pastor remaining, he conducted funeral services for as many as 50 people a day and 4,480 within one year.

Yet Rinckart is best known for writing, in the midst of the war, the great hymn that triumphantly proclaims this:

Now thank we all our God,

with heart and hands and voices

Who wondrous things has done,

in whom this world rejoices;

Who from our mothers’ arms

has blessed us on our way

With countless gifts of love,

and still is ours today.

via The Parent of All Virtues | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction.

Do you see why gratitude is the “parent of all virtues”?  Take a virtue and show its connection to gratitude.

Chesterton on gratitude

G. K. Chesterton writes about ordinary life in a way that always makes me grateful for it. He also writes about gratitude. Here is some of what he said on the subject:

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder. –Gilbert K. Chesterton

There is no such thing on earth as an uninteresting subject; the only thing that can exist is an uninterested person. –G. K. Chesterton

The aim of life is appreciation; there is no sense in not appreciating things; and there is no sense in having more of them if you have less appreciation of them. –Gilbert K. Chesterton

When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude. –G. K. Chesterton

You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink. –G. K. Chesterton

When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas time. Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs? ~G.K. Chesterton


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