“We plow the field and scatter the good seed on the land, / But it is fed and watered by God’s almighty hand”, or so says one of the songs I like from the generally‑problematic 1970s’ musical Godspell, reportedly drawing on a much-older hymn, perhaps based in part on Mark 4:26-29.
We do not have to be farmers to understand and agree with the song and hymn’s conclusion, “So/then thank the Lord, oh thank the Lord, / For all His love.” And, that conclusion is especially relevant for us this week, whether we celebrated this past Thursday as more of either a Harvest Festival or a Day of National Thanksgiving.
Our thanksgiving should be directed not to some nameless, faceless entity but to the Lord, the Triune God of both the Bible’s Old and New Testaments, Who especially reveals Himself in the person of the God-man Jesus. And, our Thanksgiving should be for far more than a successful harvest or its equivalent paycheck.
Some years ago when a fellow church member and I wanted to sing the hymn “We Plow the Fields and Scatter” as a duet in a church service on Thanksgiving Day, we lamented the hymn’s lack of an expression of thanks to God for His saving work through Jesus’s death on the cross. So, I composed another stanza for our anthem to meet that lack.
In doing so, I paraphrased the historic Christian liturgy’s Proper Preface for Easter Day. The resulting stanza was sung as follows: “But chiefly are we bound to praise You, O Lord God, / For the death and rising of Jesus Christ, our Lord. / He is the Son once offered to take away our sin / And by Whose death destroyed death that we might live again.”
As the usual explanation of American Thanksgiving becomes less and less politically correct, and as Thanksgiving Day gets more and more lost in society’s rush to Black Friday and a secular, Christ-less Christ-mass, we who repent of our sins and trust God to forgive us for Jesus’s sake do well always to focus on that biggest reason for giving thanks.
Then, we are responding well not only to God’s love to us in His Son but also, as a result, to the Bible’s repeated call: “O give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good: For His mercy endureth forever” (for example, Psalm 136:1 KJV).
The Rev. Dr. Jayson S. Galler is Pastor of Pilgrim Lutheran Church in Kilgore. You can reach him through the congregation’s website:www.pilgrimlc.org.