Mount Calvary Family,
The Ark of the Covenant was the symbol of God’s presence in the midst of His People Israel from the time of Moses. Israel carried it with them throughout their wilderness wanderings. The Ark was housed in the “Tabernacle [Tent] of Meeting.” A tent was appropriate as it traveled with them, reminding them always that God was with them. When they were finally settled in the land of Israel and David ruled from Jerusalem, he brought the Ark to Jerusalem. It was a festive time of thanksgiving and praise for all God had done for them in establishing them in this homeland He had provided. David shares his song of praise in 1st Chronicles 16, beginning with these words:
8 Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the peoples!
9 Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works!
10 Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!
11 Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!
He closes with these familiar words of thanksgiving:
. . . Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
for His steadfast love endures forever!
David could have complained about the sacrifices he had to make and the struggles he had to endure to build his kingdom. He could have pointed out that so many of his forefathers died without experiencing the great blessings of that day. David could have bragged about all that he had done to achieve the goal of a kingdom for his people. But David recognized that the greatest blessings from God generally come through sacrifice. David recognized that it was God who had built His Kingdom through David and those who gathered around him. David also recognized that he had far more for which to thank God than a few fertile acres in the Middle East. One of my favorite passages from David’s writings comes from the account of the death of his son in 2nd Samuel 12:23, “I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.” These few words reflect David’s confident faith in the resurrection and the certainty in his heart that God has something more and greater for the faithful ones who trust in God’s promises.
As we turn the page on our calendars to November . . . or as the new month pops up on our I-phones and Androids . . . our thoughts generally turn to Thanksgiving and the time set aside by our nation to thank God for all His great blessings to us. For many, Thanksgiving has become more about food, football, and Black Friday sales . . . about celebrating our “success” measured in all that we have as we set aside diets and gorge ourselves on all the bounty our land provides. Yes, there is generally the obligatory prayer before the meal in the Thanksgiving holiday specials of our favorite TV shows, but I am not really sure how many of the homes celebrating the day pause to thank God for His tremendous blessings as we gather. And, indeed, our blessings have been great!
The freedoms we hold dear and the great resources of our land are tremendous blessings from God, but we are reminded in the early days of this month, that those blessings have not come without sacrifice. On November 10th we celebrate Veterans’ Day, remembering those who sacrificed significant periods of their lives to deliver this freedom to us. Those men and women will never forget the comrades in arms who stood alongside them until they fell in battle, sacrificing their lives for their friends, their families, and the generations yet to come. Few good things come without struggle and sacrifice; that is the way of things in a world darkened by sin. But for the people of God in Christ Jesus there is always hope because we are confident that “God will never leave us nor forsake us.” (Hebrews 13:5) We rejoice in that hope on the first day of November as we mark “All Saints Day” and again as we celebrate it the first Sunday in November, November 4th (also the weekend our clocks are to “fall back” with the end of daylight savings time November 3rd). It is a time to remember those who “will not return to [us]” but to whom “[we] shall go.” It is a time to celebrate because they knew Jesus during their lives among us as we know Him even now, and because they now know Jesus as we will, when we come to join them in the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior!
It is in our struggles that we most readily recognize our need for God, when life is difficult, when we find ourselves making the greatest sacrifices. It is in the hope we seek and the help that comes to us in times of struggle, and in coming through those struggles, thatwe see God’s presence in our lives most clearly. It is often in the hands of God reaching out to us through our Christian brothers and sisters around us that we best feel God’s presence. May we truly celebrate with Thanksgiving the many ways God has made Himself known in our lives through the blessings we have experienced, and may we be God’s hands reaching out to one another and to our neighbors as we seek to share our faith in God’s presence and in His power to deliver us from every struggle of life till He delivers us into the eternal joys of His Kingdom through Jesus, God’s Son, our Savior!
May your November truly be filled with Thanksgiving and praise as you celebrate all God’s blessings of past, present, and future.
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About The Author
Since 2015, Pastor John Carrier has been Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church's pastor in Detroit, Michigan. He is also the Director for Camp Restore Detroit. Mt. Calvary has a bi-monthly newsletter, which opens with words from Pastor Carrier, called "From The Pastor's Desk..."