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Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; 
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.    – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

If you think about it, the month of November begins and ends with a call to give thanks.  On the first Sunday of the month, we give thanks to God for the saints on All Saints Sunday.  We pray and give thanks for the loved ones we’ve lost this past year.  We also give thanks and praise for all those we’ve loved and lost throughout the years.  As we call to mind those who are no longer with us, my hope is that a smile rests on your face as you recall the wonderful memories you have of these people, as you remember the gift of their presence in your life.  For these people, these saints, we give thanks.

The month also ends with a call to give thanks as we celebrate Thanksgiving.  We gather with family and friends around a table filled with food that will later cause us to fall asleep while sitting on the couch watching football.  During this time with our loved ones, we give thanks for the relationships we have, the blessings we’ve been given, and the abundant love of our good and gracious God.  And despite the fact that this year is unlike any other, we’re still able to give thanks for these relationships, these blessings, and our God, even if we aren’t able to gather and feast as we usually would.

I know everything these days is about the pandemic and that you’re probably sick of hearing about it.  The fact of the matter is that even after all these months, it’s still a force in our world that continues to change the way we live, but it doesn’t have to change the thanks and praise we give during this season of Thanksgiving.  If you’re anything like me, you’re sick and tired of all the uncertainty, all the loss, all the disruption.  When you’re feeling this way, it can be easy to lament rather than give thanks.  Rest assured, there is time enough for both:

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
– Ecclesiastes 3:1-2, 4

Dear siblings in Christ, my prayer is that we not get stuck in the rut of complaining and negativity during this season.  May we mourn what we’ve lost, but also give thanks for what we have.  May we remember those we have loved and lost with gratitude for the time we spent together.  May we call to mind the abundant blessings that God has graciously given – and continues to give – to us.  As we read in 1 Thessalonians, may we rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for us.

Happy month of praise and thanksgiving.  You are a blessing and I give thanks to God for you!