What IS Thanksgiving?
Today, in the midst of baking rolls and pies, it is good to to rest the feet and reflect on what Thanksgiving means. Of course, we can say we’re thankful for family, friends, our freedoms as US citizens, health, possessions and jobs, but what if we don’t have them? Can we still be thankful? Consider this-
Martin Rinkart was a pastor at Eilenburg, Saxony during the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648). Because Eilenburg was a walled city, it became a severely overcrowded refuge for political and military fugitives from far and near. As a result the entire city suffered from famine and disease. In 1637 a great pestilence swept through the area, resulting in the death of some eight thousand persons, including Rinkart’s wife. At that time he was the only minister in Eilenburh because the others had died or fled. Rinkart alone conducted the burial services for 4480 people, sometimes as many as 40 or 50 a day!
During the closing years of the war, Eilenburg was overrun or besieged three times, once by the Austrian army and twice by the Swedes. On one occasion, the Swedish general demanded that the townspeople make a payment of 30,000 thalers. Martin Rinkart served as intermediary, pleading that the impoverished city could not meet such a levy; however, his request was disregarded. Turning to his companions the pastor said, “Come, my children, we can find no mercy with man; let us take refuge with God.” On his knees he led them in a fervent prayer and in the singing of a familiar hymn, “When in the Hour of Utmost Need.” The Swedish commander was so moved that he reduced the levy to 1350 thalers.
This is the servant God used to pen the words:
“Now thank we all our God With heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things hath done, In whom His world rejoices;
Who, from our mother’s arms, Hath blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, And still is ours today.
O may this bouteous God, Through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts And blessed peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed
And free us from our ills In this world and the next”
Martin Rinkart (1586-1649)
Translated by Cathrine Winkworth (1827-1878)
(Taken from “Crusader Hymns and Hymn Stories. Hope Publishing. 1966)
Walled in, no freedom, no food, little or no family, jobs, possessions and health, yet they gave thanks to God. God tells us in 1Th 5:18 “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” It is obvious that a thankful heart is not based on circumstances but perspective and frame of (spiritual) mind.
My prayer for you this thanksgiving is not that you will have an abundance of things and happy circumstances, but you will know that no matter what your life brings, God is always the certainty of love, grace and forgiveness. Maybe that’s what Martin Rinkart knew.
As my husband, Glen, and my worlds fill with challenges, it is good to take pleasure in the small ways laughter comes to us. Since I have no piano students this year, art projects are filling the hours (as if they needed filling!) I leave you with a pastel still in progress of the one that spends the most time with me-Kansa.
Thank you Holly for this posting of a Prayer of Thanks to God. I hope your Thanksgiving was blessed and everyone