[1 Timothy 2:1-6] First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.
Giving Thanks in Every Circumstance
In September of the year 1620, a small group of one hundred people set sail from England. Many of these one hundred belonged to a separatist, Protestant church, seeking a place to believe and worship more freely. All of those one hundred thought they were setting sail for Virginia but, after two months at sea on the cold Atlantic, they accidentally ended up on the shore of what is now Massachusetts.
They were in the wrong place. This caused some political discord in the small group. And, on top of that, they had a rough first winter. Over half of the one hundred who set sail in the fall of 1620 were deceased by the spring of 1621. To put that in perspective, by the spring they were reduced to making a fresh start of their whole colony with a group a little bit smaller than our one congregation. A gathering of their whole colony after that rough winter would be about the size of our current Sunday gatherings during COVID.
Roughly a year after first landing, they did make friends with some of the local, native peoples, and, having learned a little about their new world, were able to have a harvest feast. A grand dinner filled, I’m sure, with the remembrance of many empty chairs, so to speak, of those who had died Over half of the only people they had in the world had died, precisely because they went on this journey with them. For the survivors, we can only imagine the guilt and the regret.
But they did feast. And in honor of this half empty feast of theirs, and of the winter they endured, we celebrate a feast every year, and we call it, “Thanksgiving.” And rightly so. They were thankful. They lost all, but they were thankful. Thankful to God that they could worship and believe in Him.
Tomorrow’s feast is a yearly reminder to us not to be thankful only for blessings, but to be thankful in all circumstances, as the Scriptures say:
“Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” [Ephesians 5:20]
“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.” [Colossians 3:15]
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” [Colossians 3:16]
“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” [Colossians 3:17].
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” [Philippians 4:6]
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” [1 Thessalonians 5:18]
Giving thanks always and for everything [Ephesians 5:20]. No matter the winter and no matter the grief, it is time to give thanks. Not just because God told you to, but because God truly is always good. In all circumstances, good or bad, God remains your Good.
What has God done for you that is so good and gives you cause for thanksgiving in all circumstances? God has been and is always your Creator, your Redeemer, and your Sanctifier.
God the Father has created you, has given you your body and soul, has crafted and knows every molecule in you, and still takes care of them. He gives you clothing and shoes, food and drink, a wife, a husband, children, family, good neighbors, and all you have. God has guarded you to this day from all evil and danger so that today, here you are.
All this He has done without any worthiness or merit in you, but only out of His fatherly, divine goodness and mercy.
God the Son has redeemed you. He has redeemed you – bought you back – from sin, from death, from the power of the devil. He has redeemed you, not with gold or silver, put with His holy, precious blood and by His innocent suffering and death for you.
Because He has redeemed you, a lost and condemned sinner, from sin, death, and the devil, now you are His own and live under Him, and will forever live under Him, in His kingdom and will forever serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness.
This the Son of God has done for you, for which we give Him thanks.
And God the Holy Spirit is and has been your Sanctifier. Something that has sanctity is something that is valuable, holy, and precious. The Holy Spirit takes a sinful lump of clay and sanctifies it – makes it holy, precious, and valuable. You being made holy and precious has been the Holy Spirit’s work, not dependent on your reason or strength. For this we thank Him.
By God’s Word and Baptism, the Holy Spirit has opened your eyes to who Jesus is and has given you faith in Him. He continues to increase your understanding. And the Holy Spirit makes you holy to God your Father by daily and richly forgiving all your sins and the sins of all believers.
The Holy Spirit is the Lord and the Giver-of-Life. On the Last Day, He will give life again to your mortal body. For all this, we give Him thanks.
This is all most certainly true. It is all what God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit do for your – without your worthiness – before you can even ask, they are doing it and have done it. For all this, it is our blessed privilege and gift to be able to give thanks to God and serve Him for it.
Tomorrow, as many people are giving thanks for many reasons, or for no reason, you give thanks for this reason – that God is a Father, a Redeemer, and a Sanctifier and Comforter for you. Who God is, what He does, and what He remains to be for you throughout all the cold winters - this gives you cause for thanksgiving in every circumstance. Thanks be to God. Amen.