Giving Thanks

Thursday, 27 November 2008 16:38

Many cultures sanctify a day or more a year just for giving thanks. In the United States, that day is called Thanksgiving.

This year Thanksgiving is pregnant with thoughts and emotions. For me, November 22, 1963 was the sober introduction to adult Thanksgiving beyond turkey, pumpkin pie and football.

You did it: you changed wild lament into whirling dance;
You ripped off my black mourning band and decked me with wildflowers.
I'm about to burst with song; I can't keep quiet about you.
God, my God, I can't thank you enough
--
Psalm 30:11-12 (The Message)

Many cultures sanctify a day or more a year just for giving thanks. In the United States, that day is called Thanksgiving.

This year Thanksgiving is pregnant with thoughts and emotions. For me, November 22, 1963 was the sober introduction to adult Thanksgiving beyond turkey, pumpkin pie and football. I was a junior in high school in Bitburg, Germany and our basketball team was just sitting down to steak dinner after an away game on a small US military base in France when we heard the news that President John F. Kennedy was shot. After the news of his death, French and German people approached us on the streets with tears expressing their sorrow and compassion. We gave a tense thanks that year as the world mourned and our fathers were all put on alert status.

In 1968, as a senior at a Christian college, I spent Thanksgiving with the beautiful Marcia, my new wife of three months. I thanked God with a heavy heart as I pondered that year. I had attended numerous large desegregation conferences and small retreats throughout the southern USA as the Arkansas state president for the Student National Education Association.

I will never forget making friends with a black principal of a high school in Memphis that March while at a conference in Dallas. Everyone was pretty upbeat, optimistic and friendly until the announcement was made that Martin Luther King, Jr. had been assassinated. The racial divide that seemed to be melting immediately quick froze the room. I was ashamed that a well-respected Bible professor at my own college had posted a large display in our student center trying to prove that Martin Luther King, Jr. was a communist. Of course, that was only the second year the school had allowed black students to enroll.

A couple of months after the King assassination, Bobby Kennedy was gunned down. Campus riots, race riots, the infamous police brutality at the Chicago Democratic National Convention and more forever mark our anniversary year. The country and many parts of the world seemed to be coming apart at the seams.

Many Thanksgivings have since come and gone with delicious memories of kids, family, friends and guests. One of our favorite was in 2004 when we were privileged to gather in a small high rise apartment in Hong Kong with Godwin and Crystal Chan’s family group. All of the traditional Thanksgiving fare was there – mingled in with the most incredible Chinese dishes!

By the grace of God last August we celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary! I have so many things to be grateful for in my wonderful, loving, talented, patient wife. Well, actually, we haven’t celebrated yet. We are still trying to plan a week away. I gave her a list of 40 things I am grateful for about her.

On November 5, 2008, the USA overwhelmingly elected the first African American as President! And he is from our beloved Chicago! My friend Anton Ivy called me and shared the thrill at being at Grant Park for the incredible acceptance speech event that night. I so wanted to be there, but was with my wife watching and soaking up everything. Incredibly, only 40 years after Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and killed and riots in the same Grant Park, Barak Obama was elected by a landslide and is inspiring hope in the world.

What do we have to be thankful for?

  • Those of us who live in countries based on biblical principles should praise God for the freedom we enjoy as results of those principles.
  • Thank God for his being Sovereign over the authorities – the good and the bad. Surrender our politics to his Lordship.
  • Thank God for our fellowship that has continually taught and expected people to repent of prejudice and racism as a part of being a true disciple of Jesus.
  • Thank God for all of the relationships he has given us and our children with people of so many different backgrounds.
  • Thank God for the people who went before us and sacrificed so much so that we would show God’s love for all the countries and cultures of the world and not just our own.
  • Thank God that He is still with his people and has much more for us to do in making disciples of all nations! We have only just begun.

Thank God for the new leaders he is raising up among us from 147 countries to accomplish that task!

This would be a good year to have Thanksgiving with people who aren’t like us.
Seems that’s what the first Thanksgiving was about.

Seems like that’s what God had in mind in the first place: all of his children getting along at the banquet table!

Grace and Truth,
Roger Lamb

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Read 3934 times Last modified on Thursday, 20 March 2014 13:57