Thanksgiving has passed, leftovers are packed away, and, if we’re lucky, the antacids are working.
Hopefully we took time to give thanks. I am blessed with an amazing wife, two wonderful daughters, good friends, a reverent and inspiring church, my job and a warm place to sleep tonight, among other blessings.
But, I’d like to give thanks not only for blessings attained, but also for the guidance God has given us to bring about the Kingdom of God.
In a state cutting services to our most vulnerable citizens, we should give thanks for God’s guidance in Psalm 82 to “Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”
In a society addicted to violence, with a gun-related murder rate 25 times that in other developed countries, we should give thanks for the warning in Psalm 11 that “The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.”
In one of the wealthiest nations, where 28 million adults have no health insurance and 20 million more may soon lose it, and where 45 million live in poverty, we should give thanks for John’s words: “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?”
In a nation that produces more food than we can eat, where more than 41 million people still go hungry, we should be grateful for Christ’s reminder that “when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!”
In a state where 15,000 children are abused or neglected each year and 243,000 children are chronically hungry, we should give thanks for the words of Jesus: “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.”
In a nation where racism and hatred divide, we should give thanks for Christ’s command: “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
In a nation where one out of every six women are victims of sexual assault, we should give thanks for the assurance in Proverbs 21 that “When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers.”
In a culture where ideology has infested the church, propaganda supplants the Gospel and partisan allegiances fracture the Body of Christ, we should give thanks for Peter’s appeal that we “be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.”
In a state where opioid abuse seems insurmountable, we should give thanks for Christ’s promise that “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
In a world still gripped by war and genocide, we should offer thanks for the Beatitude, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God,” and the words of James, “Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”
We are blessed. But, we have before us the potential for far greater blessings.
In Scripture and the Body and Blood of Christ we have the seeds of the Kingdom of God. It is ours to harvest, in this life, if only we will plant these seeds in our heart, surrender our pride and listen.
For that potential we should all give thanks. To bring it to harvest, we all must humbly pray — and act.