Fortunes Restored – a Thanksgving reflection

I’m not preaching on Sunday, and since I’m really not a big fan of the Season of Advent, I’m going to postpone my thoughts on how Jesus’ apocalyptic vision in Luke is somehow edifying a world that is already singing “Joy to the Word,” and offer you a quick reflection on Thanksgiving.

As I told the Sunday School class yesterday, Thanksgiving might replace Flag Day as my favorite holiday in 2016.  I chose Flag Day originally because it is nobody else’s favorite holiday and I love an underdog, but I’m really starting to believe that nobody cares about Thanksgiving anymore.  It might really need me to name it my favorite holiday. You know, as a morale boost.  What may have sealed the deal for me is Verizon’s hubris in changing the name from Thanksgiving to Thanksgetting for promotional purposes.  I don’t usually get mad at the blatant commercialism of this season, but seriously, that’s nearly sacrilegious.

Despite my hesitance to bemoan Christmas spending, I am generally a negative person.  The new Facebook Memories feature is mostly a rehashing of whatever Archie Bunker type complaint was on my mind over the last 8 years.  Honestly, I’m not sure how my wife puts up with me.  Anyway, what I love about Thanksgiving is that no matter how crummy things might seem, it gives us a chance to pause for a moment and give thanks for all the good things that God has given us.  This is nowhere more apparent for me than in the Psalm appointed for Thanksgiving in Year B.

Restore our fortunes, O LORD, *
like the watercourses of the Negev. – Psalm 126:5

It is a serious understatement to say this, but times of drought are bad.  The people of Israel knew that truth all too well.  Many depended on Wadis, creek beds that were dry except in the rainy season when, like in the video above, they were restored as flowing streams.

It can be hard to give thanks in a season of drought, be it a literal lack of rain or a perceived lack of the Spirit at work in our lives.  The tendency when times are tough is to blame God for not caring; in fact, the Psalms are rife with that sort of lament, but the gift of a day set aside to give thanks is that even in the midst of trials, we are forced to realize all the good things we have.  It is in those moments of realization that I think God restores our fortunes.  It is when we take time to notice the good in the midst of the bad, that we realize God’s presence never left, but that he has been waling alongside us all the while.  So as I sit here, sinuses full of grossness, chest heavy with a lingering cold, I’m working hard to have my fortunes restored like the water courses of the Negev, giving thanks for decaf tea and a working furnace.

The LORD has done great things for us, *
and we are glad indeed.  – Psalm 126:4

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