Thursday, November 27, 2008
November 26, 2008 Eve of Thanksgiving Day
You read the papers these days or catch the evening news, and for the last couple of months anyway it’s been all economic crisis, all the time.
We’ve become a nation of experts, talking about subprime mortgage-backed securities and credit-default swaps and the collapse of the international monetary system in casual conversation at the water cooler. The President-elect has announced about thirty-five new panels, think-tanks, and advisory groups to work with him on these issues, and I expect my phone to ring any minute now with word of my appointment to one of them. After all, I took two Econ courses at Cal, back in the early '70's . . . .
And there is more generally this undercurrent of anxiety, and not that deep under the surface. A friend recently told me that he had planned to retire next year, and he and his wife had their itinerary of travel all worked out--but that his 401K had taken such a beating in the past three months that he figures now he’ll need to work for at least five more years. And another friend talked to me yesterday about how she was dealing with having been laid-off from the job that she had so deeply loved. And wondering what to do next.
Hard times. Kind of scary. I’ve been thinking lately about the stories my dad would tell about his growing up during the Great Depression. Used to seem like ancient history. But maybe things to learn there for us now. He was even back in the 50’s and 60’s always wanting to impress upon me and my sister that there were so many things that we simply would take for granted, that we shouldn’t take for granted. And mostly I think this sense that it would be so easy in the midst of material prosperity to lose sight of the things that turn out to be most important. Certainly relationships, family, friends and neighbors, caring for each other. And the deeper sense of God’s presence and care for us. Not as a God who is always showering us with goodies, but as one who helped us to know and live on a stronger foundation.
There is a lot to give thanks for, even in unsettled times. And we would highlight then the first sentence of the gospel reading this evening, on the Eve of Thanksgiving Day. Jesus to his friends. “Put away anxious thoughts.” Easier said than done, of course. And which doesn’t mean live in denial, which doesn’t mean forget about careful planning and responsible stewardship, which doesn’t mean “eat, drink, and be merry” until the last of the seed corn has been consumed.
But to remember where we are called to put our trust. In whom. Our confidence. Our hope. Not in material things. Not in political programs. Not in popularity or prestige. But to put our trust, our confidence, our hope, in the One above all others who is faithful. The old saying from the 12-Step movement always wise, but especially in times like these: “the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”
We're all of us in different places this evening, as we would note that in terms of our care for one another, our sensitivity and awareness of need. And in all that, above all that, to know that this evening and always, as we are fed at his Table, we are secure forever in his love. And bound together, one to another, in his love.
So, may this day, however we observe it, be a day most of all of Thanksgiving for that.