Pastor OlsenRev. Peter A. Olsen

Pastor OlsenRev. Rachel M. Zarnke

From the Pastor's Desk

November 2015

Thanksgiving is easily the most overlooked, underappreciated holiday in our calendar. It has gathered some well-deserved negative attention over the past years as our culture has begun to challenge the historicity and the social justice implications of the more common, largely hagiographical, narrative that surrounds its inception. The sweeter-than-pumpkin-pie story about indigenous people sharing a feast with starving but determined European settlers that we all learned in grammar school glazes over some significant issues that still need to be grappled with today. Historically inaccurate at best, the lore behind the feast creates more problems than it solves.

Still, that's no reason to wipe this festive occasion off the calendar completely. Thanksgiving provides us with an incredible opportunity to take a pause in our lives, individually and collectively, to give thanks for everything that surrounds us. We are such a blessed people, a blessed nation. We are blessed with so much that the majority of God's people could never have imagined. This makes it that much more important that we, as a county, as a church, stop together to remember and give thanks for all we have been given.

Thankful hearts and voices raise, tell everyone what God has done.
Let all who seek the Lord rejoice and bear Christ's holy name.
Send us with your promises and lead your people forth in joy
with shouts of thanksgiving. Alleluia!

Thankful Hearts and Voices Raise, ELW #204

Suffice it to say, there is no reason this practice should be limited to a collective experience and to just one day a year. Gratitude is one of the most powerful disciplines in our Christian life. Joy and happiness multiplies when we remember to give thanks to the source of all goodness. Any bad situation, conflict or event can be instantly transformed if we pause and think of one thing that we can be grateful for. One tiny drop of gratitude is a powerful antidote to any negative situation.

It is also an incredible thing to consider that, while our specific traditions behind Thanksgiving are unique to our country (and Canada), we are joined by almost every culture on the map when it comes to the broader concept of setting aside one day for giving thanks. It is difficult to find a culture that does not, in some way, celebrate the harvest, celebrate what has been provided to them. Whether the triune God is invoked specifically, or whether the gratitude is offered towards another deity or the earth, most people recognize "a giver" in some way. This is such a testament to the power of God within us, whether recognized or not, that people can feel instinctively. As a race, humans are hard-wired to seek God, in one way or another. Our drive to give thanks is just one more example of this quest.

Pastor Zarnke