“Now Thank We All Our God”
We all know what we’re supposed to today – thank we all our God! Even un-believers and non-church-goers, even the most base and crass TV families stop for Thanksgiving and offer a word of gratitude to some oft-times-unnamed Higher Power.
Really we don’t believe there’s anyone to thank for most of what we have – we earned it, we deserve it, and we deserve more!
But, we’ll stop one day a year and say Thank You to God.
This year, perhaps more than many, we say Thank you to God and to neighbors and to our effervescent electric company. Right? Thank we all our God!
Some of you have heard the story behind the song, “Now Thank We All Our God.” Listen again:
This is from Catherine Winkworth’s “Christian Singers of Germany.” She is the one who translated the 17th century hymn into English in the 19th century. “This classic hymn was written by a pastor (Martin Rinkart) who suffered greatly through the 30 Years War in Germany during which (through war and famine) 4/5 of the population of Germany died. He himself was in extreme poverty and when the pastors of his 2 neighboring towns died he ended up having to do the work of 3 pastors, burying 4,000 people in 1637 (50 per day!) – including his wife – when the plague hit. This was followed by a famine so severe that 30-40 people could be seen in streets fighting to the death over the corpse of a dead cat. And then right after this the Swedes invaded and demanded a ridiculous amount of money in tribute. The story goes that he went to intercede with the Swedish commander to reduce the tribute and the commander refused. At this point Rinkart turned to the crowd that was with him and said “Come my children, we can find no hearing, no mercy with men. Let us take refuge with God.” he then fell to his knees and prayed with such pathos that the commander reduced the tribute from $30,000 to $2,000. He wrote this hymn in 1644, 4 years before the Peace of Westphalia that ended the War in 1648.”
“Now, thank, we all, our God!”
Paul writes to the Church in Thessalonika,
1 Thessalonians 5:17-19 (NIV)
17 Pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 19 Do not quench the Spirit.
Paul tells us to be thankful in all circumstances – not for all circumstances, that might just be silly; but in all circumstances – for God’s power and presence, His grace and might, can be found in every situation.
So, today, we look at “HOW” thank we all our God. If EVERYBODY says some sort of grace on Thanksgiving, if EVERYONE goes around their Thanksgiving dinner table and recites something they’re thankful for, then HOW ARE WE who claim to believe something with substance any DIFFERENT?
Among our Sunday studies on the Ten Commandments, we have heard, and today we are reminded, of two things that can make us different:
“Remember the Lord your God; for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth.” Deuteronomy 8:18
In good and in bad, remember the Lord your God; always give credit to the One who deserves it. Anything we have, everything we have, is because God has entrusted it to us.
“Each person should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” II Corinthians 9:7
When God entrusts us, He hopes we will trust Him back. We all know the “God loves a cheerful giver” verse, but it begins with an imperative to be honest and to have integrity. To respond to God’s love with our STUFF.
We will be different from our neighbors this Thanksgiving by being generous and faithful. And when life is hard, we will find refuge with God. Now, thank we all our God, together. Amen.