Christ Lutheran Church
5245 Hadley Rd.
Goodrich, Michigan 48438
We believe that the Bible, is the inspired word of God, therefore it is the true Word of God and serves as the only source and norm for our Christian Faith. The central truth is the Good News of God’s Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ, whose life, death and resurrection is our only way to everlasting salvation. We remain faithful to God through the study of his word, worship, and prayer and are led in our ministry by the Holy Spirit.
2-Timothy 3:16-17: All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction, for righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Romans 8:14-15: For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the Sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father”.
Dear Friends and members of Christ Lutheran Church.
Chuck Norris recently wrote something that reminds me of what has happened this year and is especially now happening at this time of Thanksgiving. He tells us that actually, there may not be a better year for Thanksgiving in our lifetime than 2020. Before you disagree because of the hardships you're facing… let me explain.
In the words of many, 2020 has been wacko. There's been nothing normal or easy about it. From massive loss of employment to massive loss of lives through sickness, sadness, and suicide, our hearts break for countless souls across our country.
And so, with another Thanksgiving upon us, the big question this year is: "How can we, particularly those who have been gravely affected by the events and aftermath of 2020, be thankful this Thanksgiving?” That's not an easy question to answer, but I'd like to try.
I'd begin by respectfully reminding you that those upon whom Thanksgiving was founded, the Pilgrims who landed in 1620 at Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts, were those who also discovered the power to give thanks even in the midst of hardship, suffering, disease and deaths.
Though they came to a new land, the pilgrims were by no means foreigners to the territory of pain and suffering. Of the 102 original people that set sail on the Mayflower to the New World, only 53 lived through the first winter. And then another half of those didn't survive their second winter.
The colonists spent the first winter living onboard the Mayflower. Only 53 passengers and half the crew survived. Women were particularly hard hit; of the 19 women who had boarded the Mayflower, only five survived the cold New England winter, confined to the ship where disease and cold were rampant. The Mayflower sailed back to England in April 1621, and once the group moved ashore, the colonists faced even more challenges.
During their first winter on land in America, more than half of the Plymouth colonists died from malnutrition, disease and exposure to the harsh New England weather. In fact, without the help of the area's native people, it is likely that none of the colonists would have survived at all. An English-speaking Abenaki named Samoset helped the colonists form an alliance with the local Wampanoags, who taught them how to hunt local animals, gather shellfish and grow corn, beans and squash.
Ron Lee Davis recalled in "Rejoicing in Our Suffering": "The Pilgrims would not fully understand in their lifetime the reason for the suffering that beset them. The first official Thanksgiving Day occurred as a unique holy day in 1621 – in the fall of that year with lingering memories of the difficult, terrible winter they had just been through a few months before, in which scores and scores of babies and children and young people and adults had starved to death, and many of the Pilgrims had gotten to a point where they were even ready to go back to England. They had climbed into a ship and were in that harbor heading back to England, ready to give up. It was only as they saw another ship coming the other way, and on that ship there was a Frenchman named Delaware, and he came with some medical supplies and some food, that they had enough hope to go back and to try to live in the midst of those adverse sufferings. And yet they came to that first Thanksgiving with the spirit of giving and of sharing."
H.W. Westermeyer couldn't have said it better: "The pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts … nevertheless, they set aside a day of thanksgiving."
The Pilgrims, who were originally known as Christian Separatists and Puritans or "first-comers" and "forefathers," crossed the Atlantic and faced their first winter with the comfort of their Geneva Bible, a translation made in 1560. In that Geneva Bible they read the words from 1 Thessalonians 5:18, which offers a great challenge, "in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
It's that word "everything" that must have been a challenge for the Pilgrims as well for many of us. And yet in that single word was also the remedy for their as well as our downcast souls. It doesn't say, "feel thankful," but "be thankful" or "give thanks.” Thanksgiving is a duty before it's a feeling. It also doesn't say be thankful "for" everything, but "in" everything. Find something, anything, to be grateful for even in the worst of times and our moods will be lifted. God prescribed our thanks-living because He knew it would make us happier.
Harvard Health Medical School & Publishing recently reported that several scientific studies concluded, "Giving Thanks Can Make You Happier.” That might be a surprise to everyone except the Pilgrims and theologians, for that truth is more than 2000 years old.
It is true that, though Thanksgiving is commemorated once a year, giving thanks was never intended to be a single day event. Gratitude is a seasoning for all seasons. Thanksgiving is a school from which we should never graduate.
In tough times like 2020, we must call up our reserves. As Helen Keller, who saw and heard more than most even without the senses of sight or hearing, explained it this way… "So much has been given to me, I have no time to ponder over that which has been denied.” If someone like Helen can do it, there is definite hope for all of us to see that we are still more blessed than we suffer.
Giving thanks is still a choice… a discipline, especially so in times of hardship. Though it is definitely not easy, it is always possible to list our assets alongside our losses. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a prisoner and martyr under Adolf Hitler, concluded, "It is only with gratitude that life becomes rich."
Thanksgiving is still born in adversity, so perhaps, respectfully speaking, it will mean even more to many of us this year than in years past. It certainly challenges the giant within us to understand why Thanksgiving falls at the beginning of winter. It is still a holiday for the courageous, those who face their fears and fight to remain thankful. As Aesop… of Aesop’s Fables, concluded so long ago, "Gratitude is the sign of noble souls."
With all this in mind, I'd encourage and challenge each of you this Thanksgiving in particular, to heed the call of William Bradford, governor of the Plymouth Colony, who, in 1623, challenged his people with these words: "Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as He has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience; now, I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday, November ye 29th of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty-three, and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor, and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings."
May each of you have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving.
Pastor Kelly Todd and Linda