This past Sunday our senior pastor gave a very helpful sermon on "Jesus in Our Celebrations." In anticipation of the Thanksgiving holiday, he closed his message with an illustration of the 17th century German hymnwriter Martin Rinkart, who composed the famous Thanksgiving hymn, "Now Thank We All Our God." Apparently, this pastor-hymnwriter wrote the hymn during the Black Plague and the 30 Years' War. The point, we were told, was to give thanks to God despite our circumstances, knowing that God was indeed good to us no matter what.
After the service, I was approached by a church member leading in tow at least 7 Sudanese "Lost Children" who are refugees connected to our congregation. I had the privilege of praying for them after the service and then one of the men remarked to me: "I really liked the pastor's point about giving thanks in all circumstances. That's a good lesson. That's what I want to do." Considering all he'd been through, the horrible atrocities and the violent uprooting from his country, I was moved to tears. If he can give thanks despite the human rights violations, the terrible injustice, his separation from friends and family, so can we. His sincerity and spiritual focus were staggering. What an example and challenge he gave me. Now thank we all our God, indeed.