Give thanks in all things
Last Sunday was what is known on the church calendar as Thanksgiving Sunday; the Sunday before Thanksgiving.
Our worship leader at Cannon UMC, Linda Stimpson, a gifted vocalist and inspiration to all of us, led the congregation in singing the old hymn, "Now Thank We All Our God."
It is a beautiful hymn dating back to the 17th century.
The first stanza says, "Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices, Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices."
It is a wonderful hymn of thanksgiving that was written during one of the darkest periods in Europe's history.
That song was written by the German Lutheran clergyman, Martin Rinckart, sometime during the Thirty Years War, which was fought from 1618 to 1648 in Central Europe.
The war was fought initially between Protestant and Catholic states, and it was one of the deadliest wars in European history.
Sometime during that war hundreds of refugees came to the town where Rinckart ministered, and he was one of the last ministers remaining in the city to care for the refugees.
During that time, famine and the plague also spread across the countryside, and the community of Eilenburg, Germany, where Rinckart served as a pastor, was hit especially hard.
Things got so bad that Rinckart was at one point performing up to 50 funerals a day.
It was thought that it was during this time that Pastor Rinckart wrote the hymn. The song was originally written in German but has been translated into English. The words are:
"Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers' arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.
"Oh, may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And guard us through all ills in this world, till the next!
"All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given,
The Son, and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven--
The one eternal God, Whom earth and Heav'n adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore."
It is many times during the dark periods of life that some of the most inspirational hymns have been written.
Rinckart's song, and the circumstances surrounding him at the time, demonstrates something so important to us. We don't have to only thank God during the good times, when everything around us is going well, but we can thank God, and need to thank God, in the dark times as well.
I saw a slogan on a church sign this week that had the message that Thanksgiving should not just be a holiday, but thanksgiving should be a lifestyle.
We should always be thankful.
The Apostle Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, "In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."
-- Doug Dezotell is the pastor of Cannon UMC. He is a columnist for the Times-Gazette; and he is a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a friend to many. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.