Thanksgiving Feasts

I love Thanksgiving.  This is a week for giving thanks and for eating and drinking.  What could be better?  All across the country people gather together with friends and family to share a meal and to share life.  This is a beautiful thing.  

It reminds me of the meal and the life that we share as Christians: the eucharist.  Eucharist means “thanksgiving.”  It is a feast at the Table of the Lord where we partake of the life of God himself.  We eat the body of Jesus and we drink the blood of Jesus, not in a physical sense but in a true and spiritual sense. Just as physical food and drink nourish our physical bodies, God gives life to our spiritual bodies through his Son Jesus who is signified in the gifts of bread and wine.  As you gather together this week to give thanks and to eat, may you be reminded of the true and better thanksgiving meal, and may it turn your eyes to Christ.

Yet, also remember that Thanksgiving is a complex time of year because many people in our midst do not have anyone to gather with to share food and conversation.  As Christ-followers we have an opportunity to draw people into the life of our families and our church family.  May you be watchful for those on the fringes and eager to extend God’s hospitality.  And may this too remind you of the future feast in the Kingdom of God where no broken relationships, sorrow, loneliness, or death will keep us apart from one another or from God.  What could be better?

Texas Church Shooting

This past Sunday an armed man entered a Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, TX and opened fire on those who had gathered to worship killing 26 people. More mourning, more suffering, more senseless death. This time, explicitly directed at our brothers and sister in Christ, whether because of their faith itself or simply because their gathering was a convenient target. Either way it is fitting that our Gospel Lesson this past Sunday was from St. Matthew 5:1-12.  Verse 4 reads: "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."

We mourn together with the families of the victims.  We mourn together with the Church universal.  We mourn together with our nation which is so stricken with gun violence (unlike any other 1st-world country).  But we also give thanks that through Jesus we have hope to find eternal comfort.

In the wake of this shooting, many may mock faith and prayer, suggesting that if prayer worked this shooting never would have happened.  They misunderstand.  For in vv. 10-12 of the Gospel reading Jesus says: "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you."  

Jesus never promised earthly protection, safety, and warm-fuzzy feelings for his followers.  Quite the opposite.  While we mourn the loss of our brothers and sisters, as well as lament the idiocy of violence and death, we are not surprised or shaken in our faith.  For we shall be comforted.  And we are blessed.

Let us reach out in love to comfort others.  Let us pray for the victims' families and for the family of the perpetrator.  And let us be a part of virtuous change in this earthly society of which we are citizens, while resting and hoping in our heavenly citizenship.

Prayer for the Las Vegas Massacre

Prayer for the Las Vegas Mass Shooting

 

As I opened the news app on my phone Monday morning, my jaw dropped and my heart sank.  Senseless violence, suffering, and tragedy.  Why Lord?  Why the massacre of human life?  When will it stop?  Senseless.

The Lord is aware of our grief.  More than aware, he is intimately involved in caring for us: "You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?" (Ps. 56:8) . He is even making sense out of the senselessness of human sin and death.  He is even making good out of evil.  Let us trust the Lord through dark times.  And more than that, let us actively pray for the Lord's comfort and peace to be upon all those intimately affected by the shooting in Las Vegas.  And let us pray that a harvest of souls for Christ is born out of all this suffering.

"Lord of all compassion
We pray for all of those caught up in the midst of tragedy or disaster.
For those who have lost life and those working to save life
For those who are worried for people they love
For those who will see their loved ones no longer
Lord Have Mercy.
For those in need of the peace that passes all understanding
For all who turn to you in the midst of turmoil
For those who cry out to you in fear and in love
Lord Have Mercy.
For those in confusion and those in despair
For those whose tears are yet to dry
For those in need of your unending love
Lord Have Mercy
Amen."