The Act of Thanksgiving
Preparing for the Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost: Three Days before Sunday (Year C)
Psalter: Psalm 65
Old Testament: Joel 1:1-20
Epistle: 2 Timothy 3:1-9
Psalter: Psalm 84:1-7
Old Testament: Jeremiah 9:1-16
Epistle: 2 Timothy 3:1-9
O Wellspring of salvation, we come to you in joy, for you have heard the prayers of the poor and raised up the lowly. Pour out your Spirit on young and old alike, that our dreams and visions may bring justice and peace to the world. Amen.
Praise is due to you,
O God, in Zion,
and to you shall vows be performed,
O you who answer prayer!
To you all flesh shall come (Psalm 65:1-2).
by Joan Stott
According to the internet there are 12 nations – large and small – who celebrate in one form or another their nation’s Thanksgiving Day; whilst other forms and styles of celebration include local “Harvest Thanksgiving” services. Historically, the dates of these annual events are not always the same, but rather more suited to their local calendars of events. Many other nations have special celebration days with varying titles including: Liberation/Independence Day; Foundation/Republic Day; or Unity/National Day - when their citizens celebrate their changed national circumstances. Israel has a secular Independence Day, and religious Jews have many Festivals.
Creative pause: Shouldn’t every day be a Thanksgiving Day?
“...Thanksgiving (todah) in Israel was a passionate, generous, public response to YHWH for YHWH’s gift or action that impinged on the life of Israel in positive and decisive ways... Specifically the todah [thanksgiving] is twinned to and is to be under- stood as the completion of petition. Thus Israel asks YHWH for relief, when relief is given, Israel offers to YHWH in response a glad todah...The act of todah is clearly a concrete, material gesture, that constitutes an act of worship, an act of devotion and loyalty to YHWH...”2 Psalm 65 verses 1-2 is a typical example: “What mighty praise, O God, belongs to you in Zion. We will fulfil our vows to you, for you answer our prayers. All of us must come to you...” This act of praise continues with specific reference to God: “...Praise...belongs to you”; “...fulfil our vows to you;” “... All of us must come to you...” The psalmist reaffirms and celebrates God is central to all of life!
Creative pause: How deprived are we when we lose the gift of awed wonder!
Verse 5 is central to and an essential message in today's psalm: “...You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds, O God our saviour. You are the hope of everyone on earth, even those who sail on distant seas...” The psalmist claims every human being – past, present and future - is linked to God through “hope” – hope in the God who creates us; and the hope in God who forgives, redeems and liberates us. When I first reflected on the psalms last five verses, it reads like a idyllic poem of rural prosperity—then the more I thought about it, it seemed to me to be more of a new creation story, a new beginning for all creation – and all that newly created abundance “...sang for joy.”
Creative pause: “We praise, we worship you, O God… all nations bow before your throne..”1
1 From “Together in Song” #98 “We praise, we worship you, O God” 4th Century anonymous author Words are in the Public Domain.
2 Text by Professor Walter Brueggemann from “Worship in Ancient Israel – An Essential Guide” Chapter 4, pages 53/4
© 2005 Abingdon Press, 201 Eighth Avenue South, Nashville TN 37202-0801 USA
PRAYER: O God, the strength of those who humbly confess their sin and place their hope in you, save us from vain displays of righteousness, and give us grace to keep faith with the true humility of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Check out more of Joan Stott’s reflections, here.