Brothers & Sisters:
The Church of St. John the Evangelist celebrates its Harvest Festival today, and this provides all of us with another opportunity to reflect on the central place that thanksgiving should occupy in the life of every Christian. We have to admit that there are so many storms raging about us in our nation and in our world, that it is much easier to complain about our troubles than to give thanks for our blessings. We are still reeling under the effects of the COVID 19 pandemic which seems not to be going anywhere and frightened about other viruses entering Jamaica and the disastrous impact it would have on our economy. Added to this is the rising tide of gun violence shattering the peace in several communities and causing concern about possible reprisals.
How can it be possible in light of these real and present dangers to follow Paul’s advice as stated in the following texts? “Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6). Or similarly, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
Let us consider these simple thoughts as possible answers to the question we posed.
- Thanksgiving does not focus on our circumstances but on our God. To give thanks then is an expression of our confidence in God. (Habakkuk 3:17-18).
- Thanksgiving springs from a spirit of contentment. Think of Paul’s statement, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation” (Philippians 4:12)
- Thanksgiving expresses itself in a spirit of generosity. Like the woman with the jar of ointment or the widow with the mite, a thankful heart will always be a generous heart. There is no thanks without giving
- The generosity in thanksgiving is dependent on the removal of anxiety. Anxiety leads us to store up treasures on earth, to build bigger barns. Generosity leads us to store up treasures in heaven.
May God grant us in these troubled times, glad and generous hearts, freed from all anxieties and fears.