Comment from Ken – there was an error last week as our email did not get forwarded as it should have, so last week’s walk was not published until the following Sunday. Here is our Thanksgiving Day walk. Dale and I wish you a wonderful, love filled, Happy Thanksgiving.
Scripture: Psalm 100
A Psalm of praise.
1 Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.
2 Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
3 Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
5 For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.
Good morning. I am pleased you could join me so early for our walk together this Monday. I know I promised that I would have time to walk with you yesterday, Sunday, but I was just so busy that I could not take the time. I am feeling badly that I did not keep my promise. I hope you have forgiven me. Forgiveness is such a blessing when you have broken words of promise. Do you remember as a child how disappointing it was when a parent made a promise, sometimes just a suggestion, and then did not keep his or her word? If you were promised that you would be taken for an ice cream cone and it never happened, it was so difficult to forgive a parent for not keeping the offer. Then you learn as you mature that sometimes parents make promises just to keep you quiet at a stressful time.
When you hold to the Christian faith, you are overcome with regret when you break a promise. Jesus teaches us through His promises that we should live by his kind and loving words. He promises us a life eternal when we make God’s will our own. On the other hand, He does not promise that we will always have an easy journey here, that sometimes we will stumble and fall, and that we will not always keep our promises. Then, as long as we are filled with regret and remorse over our transgressions, we will be forgiven. You think I am making too much of not keeping my promise of a walk yesterday and that you forgive me? Thank you for still holding faith in me – that is so important.
As we are living in New Hampshire now rather than in southeastern Massachusetts, the cold of coming winter has come upon us earlier than it used to in our former home. There have been some snowflakes, some very cold days and nights, and there is a skim of ice on many of the small ponds. The ground is still soft in some places, but you can tell it is beginning to harden beneath your feet.
Now I love winter in New England; I always have. The first snowflakes find my spirits lifted just as they were when I was a young boy in elementary school. How exciting it was to look out a schoolhouse window and see the first flakes of snow falling. The bad part was that you were imprisoned in school and could not go outside and catch the flakes on your hands or mittens, not stick your tongue out to catch a cold snowy flake. I forget sometimes that I have a slippery driveway here in Hopkinton and have to be careful, at my respectable age, not to fall. Inside an elderly man there is still very much of a boy. I hope you have never lost that sense of joy in remembering how you felt when you were in grade school.
We are fortunate, most of us, to be able to enjoy the winter season. Up here in New Hampshire, the ski slopes are being covered with manufactured snow. Manufactured snow – that sounds awkward doesn’t it. Soon there will be cross-country skiers on trails, downhill skiers darting down steep slopes at daring speeds. The “skidooers” will be breaking new trails in fresh snow or following deserted roads and trails. Moreover, at the end of the day, exhausted, happy and very tired, they will return to a warm home or lodge, will sit by a fire and be warmed by a cup of coffee, a hot chocolate, or some other drink that a pastor will not mention. However, at the end of a cold winter’s day, we will be warm and happy. Not so for the early Pilgrims.
Have you ever visited The Plymouth Plantation? Have you ever walked through that recreated village and seen just how primitive it was? Have you ever walked upon the Mayflower replica that brought those early, faith-filled people to this continent? It is a wonder, rather a miracle, that those people could survive that ocean trip and life in the settlement on the coast of New England. Those Pilgrims believed that God had made a promise to them of religious freedom in a new country far away from their homeland. Belief in God’s promise gave them the fortitude and courage to survive in a cold and hostile environment through a bitter, heart wrenching winter. So many of the Pilgrims died in that first year, and yet, those who survived held fast to their faith in a loving, caring God. Amid death and hunger, deprivation and personal loss, they continued to worship their God and to hold fast to their mission of creating a community that honored and lived by the teachings of our Lord.
This Thursday we celebrate Thanksgiving in the year two thousand seventeen. Even the poorest of Americans will be fed and warm on this Thanksgiving Day. There will be a wonderful feast for us and a warm place to sleep. We will not be at the mercy of the approaching winter cold and hungry, with death stalking us. No, we will be comfortable in our warm homes, among our friends and our families. Gratefully, even the homeless on this Thanksgiving Day will have a substantial meal and a warm place to rest. How fortunate – and yet, how few will thank the Almighty for those blessings. How many tables will be laden with food, and yet those who partake will fail to thank God the provider? How many will be warm and fail to remember that God warms our inner hearts as fire can warm our bodies? As Americans are captured by football games between rivals, an old Thanksgiving tradition, may they also celebrate the wonderful power and blessings of our Lord.
Ah, these are the words of a retired pastor who misses an active ministry, and who remembers a day when religion and God played a more important role in the lives of the American people. Do not forget your and my God on Thursday of this week. Insist as a Christian, wherever you are to have your Thanksgiving dinner that a prayer be offered to the God who loves and sustains us in spring, summer, fall, and most of all in cold New England winters. May God continue to bless you and me as God has blessed us in the past!
Our walk is over for now. Please join me in a Thanksgiving prayer:
Dear loving and protecting God, forgive us for the promises we have failed to keep as we have forsaken Your hand in our lives. This day, we bring to You grateful hearts – and perhaps, the simple blessing – “God is great and God is good, let us thank Him for our food: Amen.”
That was our childish blessing – the grown up blessing was this –
“Lord, we thank You for the food which Thou hast provided for us; give us thankful hearts for all Thy blessings, for Jesus sake Amen.” I have so many memories of long ago when nine people sat around an evening table – my father, mother, three brothers and three sisters. God was at our table with us. Bring Him to your table too.