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“What shall I return to the LORD for all his bounty to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD,
I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people.
Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful ones.
O LORD, I am your servant; I am your servant, the child of your serving-maid. You have loosed my bonds. I will offer to you a thanksgiving sacrifice and call on the name of the LORD.
I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people,
in the courts of the house of the LORD, in your midst, O Jerusalem.
Praise the LORD!”
How can we put genuine “giving” into Thanksgiving?” What is a good way for giving thanks to God for His incalculable blessings?
In thinking about this I am reminded of a story told by Old Testament theologian Ron Allen in his book, I Will Praise Him: A Guide to Worship in the Psalms. Allen tells of a friend who served as a medical missionary in India where blindness was endemic to the area. A particular disease blinded thousands of people until the doctor developed a procedure for eliminating that disease. Patients joyfully left his clinic knowing they would not be struck blind. But, the cured patients would not tell the doctor “Thank you!” for helping them! That was because the words “Thank you!” were not in their vocabulary. Rather, they would express thanks by saying “I will tell of your name.” They thought the very best way to say “Thank you!” was to tell others what the doctor had done.
It is significant that the ancient Hebrews, like the people living in that part of India, did not have the words for saying “Thank you!” Rather, they would say, “I will tell of your name.” That is why the psalmist in today’s scripture, and many other psalmists, vows to tell others of God’s name. So the psalmist ponders how to thank God for His many blessings, “What shall I return to the LORD for all his bounty to me?” Quick comes the psalmist’s answer: “I will offer to you a thanksgiving sacrifice and call on the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people…” As he gives his thanksgiving sacrifice He calls on the Lord’s name telling all the people what God has done for him.
With these words the psalmist takes us into the Biblical understanding for giving thanks. Hebrew believers never thought of just giving thanks to God in private. They thought real giving thanks had to go public. They were compelled to tell others about God’s goodness and blessing. A “thanksgiving sacrifice” denotes a sacrifice offered at the sanctuary for everyone to see, eat, and enter into the celebration. Others must be told about God and share the joy of what He has done. They will tell of His name!
Today, different places in America vie for the honor of the first thanksgiving celebration in America. Whether it was St. Augustine in 1665, Jamestown in 1610, or Plymouth Plantation in 1621, people followed the Biblical precedent of feasting and telling others what God had done.
In the midst of eating Thanksgiving turkey, sage stuffing, sweet potato pie, and more helpings of turkey, I will to tell others what God has done for me. In the presence of the people, I will praise His name. That, for me, will be putting real “giving” into Thanksgiving this year!
Grace and peace,
P. S. Our Advent devotional for 2018, We Have Seen His Glory! is now available on Kindle! Hard copies are still available through this link:
You will bring water from rock for the community.
We take our name from the Bible’s story of the archetypal Exodus journey during which the people of God came to a place in the desert wilderness where there was no water. Yet, it was there in a hostile wilderness that they experienced God’s provision of water for them and leadership into a new future. We trust in a God who still provides, renews and leads His people.
Rooted in the Word
We are a ministry of Christian renewal rooted in the Living Word, Jesus Christ, as He reveals Himself through His Written Word, the Bible. Through the Written Word we encounter the Living Word in the incomprehensible wonder of His love. We are mindful that knowledge, even of the Bible, “puffs up” while love “builds up” (1 Corinthians 8:1). We engage the Scriptures seeking to love more and know more of love. We purpose to search out God’s Word with both our minds and our hearts.
Ecumenical in Outlook
We honor all followers of Christ who have gone before us, and all who are among us now. We have much to learn and receive from all who have a lived experience of God’s transforming love. By reaching out to embrace the universal Body of Christ we strive to balance orthodoxy (right belief) and right living (orthopraxy).
In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.
(Rupertus Meldenius, 1582 – 1651)
Experiencing the Living God
We thirst to know God and not just to know about Him. We long for a living experience of God. We believe that God breaks into our world on the holy ground of His Word, and seek through His Spirit a living encounter with Him there. We daily aim to love God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength (Mark 12:30).
The arms of God be around my shoulders,
The touch of the Holy Spirit upon my head,
The sign of Christ’s cross upon my forehead,
The sound of the Holy Spirit in my ears,
The fragrance of the Holy Spirit in my nostrils,
The vision of heaven’s company in my eyes,
The conversation of heaven’s company on my lips,
The work of God’s church in my hands,
The service of God and the neighbor in my feet,
A home for God in my heart,
And to God, the Father of all, my entire being. Amen.
—Fursey of Yarmouth, 6th century Irish monk