A Message from Pastor Harvey
Greetings My Brothers and Sisters..
Thanksgiving, Veteran’s Day and All Saints Sunday: these are the major holidays (holy days?) of November. I would say, these are essentially all centered in giving thanks in one way or the other.
In celebrating All Saints we are giving thanks for the examples of how to live a life that gives glory to God. In the Lutheran understanding, we don’t pray to the canonized saints. But we do look to the lives of the saints as encouragement towards our own attempt at a life of grace and love. We recognize that those who are called saints did not live perfect lives. Rather, in their struggle to follow Jesus, we can learn more about how we might live a more complete life of trust, grace and love.
Additionally, and perhaps, more importantly, we Lutherans recognize that all those people in our own lives who have taught us about faith, love and trust in God are saints. And so, we give thanks for their part in our lives. And, I would add, this is a great time to rededicate and reorient our lives to the ideals and examples of our beloved saints.
On Veterans Day, we give thanks for those who have served this nation through military service, and most of all, to those who have died in military service to uphold the nation and the Constitution. As a veteran of 20 years service, I would like to beg your indulgence and focus on one virtue of the veteran, although this virtue is not exclusive to veterans. The truth is, no veteran lives up to the ideal of the perfect citizen. But one virtue the ideal of the veteran has is this; the veteran has placed the best interests of the nation and it’s citizens ahead of her or his own self interests. All those who serve in the military have sworn to sacrifice their own self interest for the greater good, if necessary. This is the heart of Christianity. God is love and Jesus says, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (Jn. 15:13 NRS)
And finally, the day of Thanksgiving; the day the nation gives thanks for all of God’s many blessings. It started out, more or less, as thanksgiving for the bounty of the fall harvest. But as we as a nation have moved away from an agricultural society, our thanksgiving now encompasses a much wider field of blessings.
In all cases, it is good to give thanks. I believe that the blessings of examples of faith, freedom, food, work, play, friendships, for example, bring even greater joy when we are grateful and mindful of them. But it is also good to refrain from pride and arrogance in thinking that we have accomplished anything on our own.
In truth, giving thanks to God is one way to prevent such harmful pride and arrogance.
When you have eaten your fill and have built fine houses and live in them,
13 and when your herds and flocks have multiplied, and your silver and gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied, 14 then do not exalt yourself, forgetting the LORD your God, (Deut. 8:12-14 NRS)
Your shepherd in Christ,