I have a feeling that many Americans will find it interesting to observe Thanksgiving Day this year during the midst of a severe economic crisis. There is so much anxiety among us as a result of the bursting of the housing bubble, the crash of the stock market, the instability of financial firms and many corporations, the closing of businesses and lay offs. In the midst of this crisis comes Thanksgiving Day.
The coming of Thanksgiving reminds all of us who are so anxious to be grateful for the blessings we have received. Truly giving thanks to God is just the antidote to our anxiety we need.
One of the Gospel readings appointed in the lectionary for Thanksgiving Day is Matthew 6:25-34. This is a part of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus tells us, "Do not worrry." When we first hear Jesus' words, maybe we do not appreciate them because they seem to reflect a very naive perspective. Jesus tells us to look at the birds of the air, but the birds do not hold jobs or invest on the stock market Yet, as we listen more carefully, we begin to realize how realistic his words are. Jesus is telling us the absolute truth that none of us by worrying can add a single hour to our span of life. We have to choose. Are we going to live in anxiety, or by faith? If you think about it, it simply does not make any sense to live in anxiety. That means that we have to learn to live by faith.
Jesus is directing us to put faith in God. The God he describes is the creator who works in, with, and through the creation to provide for our needs because this God cares for us. You may call this naive, but I believe it is good news. I do not think Jesus means that we do not have a responsibility to take care of ourselves, but he really does mean that we are not alone in this life. This is the faith he says we can have, and it is the way to get rid of our worry and anxiety.
I hope that all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving this year. I think this is a Thanksgiving Day we all need.
Last week I was at the meeting of the Council of Bishops. We are working on how we can fulfill the objectives we developed last quadrennium according to the theme "Making Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World."
This week our Cabinet met. This year we are participating in "The Incubator," a process of peer learning which requires eight hours of meeting every month. Many pastors across the nation have participated in this process. It could be a fine process for a leadership team in a local church. If you want more information, you may speak with your district superintendent.