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Clergy View: A Time of National Thanksgiving

Darrell Pedersen

In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Remember? Most of his sailors thought that they were going to fall off the edge of the world and die. They didn't.

In 1621, the Pilgrims and their generous supporters, the native Wampanoag people, celebrated a meal of thanksgiving together. The pilgrims had just gathered their first successful harvest in a new land. Their future survival was uncertain. They survived.

In 1776, the Continental Congress organized the United States of America. British warships sat along the coast. It was all a great experiment in democracy. Remember? This free country still exists.

In 1861, the United States was ripped in half by Civil War. There were sisters and brothers on both sides. There were Christians on both sides — North and South, slave and free. Slavery was ended.

In 1917, the United States entered World War I, the war to end all wars. In 1941, the United States entered World War II. In 1950, the United States entered the Korean War. In 1965, the United States entered the Vietnam War. Some of the people sitting next to you in worship fought in one of these wars, or other overseas military engagements.

I learned all of these things in elementary and high school.

In 2017, fires rage in California. Earthquakes shake Mexico. Hurricanes lash our southern shores. Homeless families seek shelter in Aitkin. Gun violence steals away hundreds and even thousands of lives here in this country. Our president and congressional leaders have record low approval ratings. Some fear for the future of democracy in this great land—but we can still vote, and try to discern the truth, and speak our peace. And worship.

Where has God been throughout those many events we learned of in elementary and high school? Where has God been here in this community? Where has God been in your family? And, where will God be in the year ahead? And when you die? God has been there all along, each and every time. I learned that in Sunday school, worship and when our family prayed at the kitchen table.

Today would be a good time to give thanks. To reclaim our own place in God's great family of faith. To commit the future of this country, this community and ourselves into God's keeping. Today would be a good time to pray, speak and work for justice, freedom, a safe place for people to live, work and raise their children. And for peace. Here and all over the world. Come, Lord Jesus, once again today. We need your love, grace, mercy and compassion as much today as ever.

Thanksgiving be to God.