Welcome to the JCPC Daily Reflections Blog. Reflections are daily devotionals authored by JCPC pastors, staff and members and provide insight, guidance and comfort to help you make it through each day. If you’d like to receive Reflections each day via email, provide your email address.
I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
As the holiday season arrives, so do many of our favorite traditions and gatherings. Last week, JCPC hosted our annual Giving Thanks dinner. The following day, the preschool had its Thanksgiving Feast. The parents come for a lunch and the children sing a few songs. As they finished singing and parents snapped pictures, the teachers asked parents to stay at their tables so their kids could come find them. And one boy shouted, "It's easy to find you guys!" to his folks.
We all giggled. But there's a reason it was so easy for him. They were close. He had kept his eyes on them the whole time. And they were there at the lunch because they love him. There's wisdom in that for all of us. Any one of those things would have been enough. And so they are for us. Through no effort or merit of our own, God is always close to us. And God is close because God loves us. All that remains is for us to keep our eyes on God so we can exclaim with the same joy and certainty of that little boy, "It's easy to find you!"
As we gather around tables this week and search for words to be thankful for what we have and have been given, the lives of those far away or no longer with us, remember to keep your eyes on the one who is near, near because of love. And just like that little boy, you'll have no trouble finding your way. And the feast will be waiting for you.
Prayer for Today
Gracious God, thank you for my many blessings. Lord, you are always near. Near because you love me. Help me keep my eyes on you. Amen.
This coming Thursday, most of us will celebrate Thanksgiving. Maybe we will also remember the very first Thanksgiving in this land of ours. Edward Winslow was one of the pilgrims present at that first thanksgiving, and his was the only eyewitness account which was written down. He described that celebration with the Native Americans in this way:
. . . amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, and many of the Indians coming among us, and among the rest their greatest King Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, [not turkeys] which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty. ("The First Thanksgiving, 1621," EyeWitness to History, www.eyewitnesstohistory.com, 2010)
Now, if you know the history between the Native Americans and the pilgrims, it was not always this cordial. Both before and after this first Thanksgiving, there were terrible killings on both sides. But, for a few days, people from different cultures, who rightly or wrongly had great distrust of each other, sat down at a meal and enjoyed each other's fellowship. Winslow attributes this to "the goodness of God."
What does the coming kingdom of God look like? It looks like that! It looks like the first thanksgiving. That celebration seems to demonstrate the words found in scripture that say, "People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God." (Luke 13:29, NIV) I believe those words point forward through history to that time when we will all sit around a great table -- feasting in God's kingdom! So, when you gather around your Thanksgiving table this Thursday, let that meal remind you of what the coming kingdom of God looks like.
Prayer for Today
Gracious God, we are thankful for your many blessing in our lives. Help us, this Thanksgiving and every day of the year, to enjoy the fellowship of each of your children made in your image. We pray this in the strong name of Jesus the Christ. Amen.
I continue to be grateful for the warm welcome that we received upon moving here. I am thankful for the constant support that this church family provides each week. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the ways that this cloud of witnesses has been caring for our son, Will. I am blessed to have the opportunity to grow in my faith with this community of believers.
I believe that thanksgiving is all about what God has done for us. Since faith is our response to God's presence in our lives, then expressions of thanks are at the heart of our spiritual lives. From a very early age, I learned the practice of showing gratitude and sharing thanks for others. My mother spent time each year at Christmas and my birthday teaching me to write thank you notes. Anytime that we received a gift, not long after opening it, we sat down at the kitchen table and wrote our "thank yous".
What would you write in your thank you note to God today? Over the past few hours, days, weeks or months, what are you thankful for?
Many of the Psalms provide prayers and songs of thanksgiving. I was reading Psalm 100 this morning and found it to be meaningful prayer of praise and thanksgiving.
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. Amen.
Prayer for Today
Thanks be to you, Gracious God, for all the benefits which you have given me. O most merciful Redeemer, may I know you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more nearly, day by day. Amen.