I know that many of us have good memories of Thanksgiving. Some years might not have been so great or were downright difficult. Others leave many good memories. New marriages, new babies, new jobs, and all those other “new” life changes can be a rallying point to bring people closer together and recognize the relationships they cherish. Family feuds, partisan politics, issues related to money, and more can cause rifts to form between clans within a family. Some Thanksgivings are full of joy and gratitude. Others leave us unsatisfied and unthankful.
You sit in the optometrist’s chair and they say, “A or B?” as they flip lenses. The choice is binary, one or the other. You cannot pick both. You cannot say, “Neither.” When our son was young, we learned never to ask open ended questions like, “What vegetable do you want for dinner?” We said, “Peas or green beans?” Our whole data driven world is binary – ones or zeros. Binary choice. We humans like binary choices.
Are you a caregiver? Visit www.holytrinityankeny.org for practical information and resources on caregiving.
Most of us experience the care and compassion of caregivers from the moment we are born. They take care of our every need when we arrive home from the hospital. They raise us and teach us about living in the world. They groom us to one day live on our own and be self-sufficient. As adults we meet illness and injury, some minor and short lived. Some lasting much longer than we had hoped. During those times we need caregivers. They may be professional caregivers, but many times they are spouses or other family members. Chances are we all have experienced or know someone who has needed a caregiver.
This week I read an article in Sojourners by Jim Wallis. The article is entitled “An Altar Call for the Election.” Now Lutherans do not do altar calls. If we did, I do not think it would be about an election. But the point of the article is more substantial than that. The altar call Wallis is speaking about is a call to take our identity seriously when we go to vote. Our identity as we know it is that of a beloved child of God. But there is more to that identity. The first chapter of the first book of the Bible lays out plainly who we are meant to be from the very beginning.
Most people say they pray. Even among those who don’t connect with a religious tradition or even believe in God, a fair number still say they pray. For some, prayer is like a purchase we make. We ask God to fill a need in return for our promise to be good, or at least better. For some, God is a therapist, listening to our rage or pain, and providing comfort in return. For some, prayer is an obligation we must meet to stay in God’s good graces. Still others offer prayers because they feel helpless and don’t know what else to do. There is nothing wrong with any of these prayers. The psalms (the prayerbook of the Bible) show us a broad variety of prayers spoken in gratitude, despair, lament, confession, and praise.
Because of recent car troubles, I experienced a great deal of what it means to show God’s steadfast love from this congregation. I also learned a little something about Iowa’s Department of Motor Vehicles.
I find myself full of gratitude today. I previewed the first Church School lesson for our new School of Love. It is awesome! Kelly Heuton has learned a whole new way to offer Jesus to the children of the congregation. I listened to the plans to launch affirmation classes this evening. Anne Williams has morphed everything to keep kids safe while she does what we always have – raise up disciples. I have heard praise for the music that David Fandrich made part of last weeks worship. At our prayer service this evening on Zoom, people were thankful to come together on Zoom to do what we do as people of God – “persevere in prayer.” (Romans 12) I wrote a letter to the congregation to thank everyone for the financial support we have received that has kept us going through the pandemic. Our finances are solid.
Last Friday, as I harvested some of the bounty from our little garden, I was surrounded by dozens of butterflies. The pollinator garden in the opposite corner of the yard, with phlox, butterfly bush, and milkweed all in bloom, was a nectar smorgasbord for the beautiful creatures. Spicebush Swallowtails in black and blue. Bright yellow Eastern Tiger Swallowtails and the orange of the regal Monarch and delicate American Lady wowed me. The beauty of creation, manifest in these creatures, was a sign of grace, pointing to God’s goodness.