Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

Today I am preparing for our first Thanksgiving at home in perhaps twenty years. Family custom dictates spending Turkey Day with our daughter in Kentucky, but circumstances necessitate a change of pattern this year. Moreover, we still look forward to spending Christmas in the Commonwealth (Kentucky).

My holiday preparation recalls a story I first read years ago in the pages of our church magazine. It was a story of a boy who grew up in a Church of God parsonage, the son of one of our pioneer preachers--a preacher‘s kid (PK). There he--Harold--often joined in singing hymns of hope, even as I did, many of which were taken from Bible passages. William Schell authored one such song in which he described hope as an anchor of the soul:

Blessed hope we have within us is an anchor to the soul,
It is both steadfast and sure;
It is founded on the promises of the Father’s written word,
And ‘twill ever-more endure
(Schell/“We Have a Hope”/Warner Press/1989, p. 727)

Harold observed the people around him and saw God blessing their lives and filling them with hope. He saw in them living embodiments of the Psalmist’s words:

As for the saints who are in the land,
They are the glorious ones in whom is all my delight (16:3, RSV).

Harold translated that hope into a personal faith that walked the talk. He found it adequate as a truck driver, and later as a baker. He lived it out clerking in a grocery store and later doing piece work in a nearby factory. Filled with that quiet assurance, Harold proved dependable and eventually worked his way to a solid education.

On achieving his Doctor of Education degree, he began hopefully investing his life in public education. Quietly, he gave his best years to his pupils. One day brought an unexpected telephone call. An unexpected caller announced, “I’m the boy who started the fire. I’m now a teacher in the public schools.”

The voice continued, “I thought you would like to know that you are the one who inspired me to be a teacher.”

Memories from across the years flooded in and Harold recalled a football player from years before. This star athlete had finally admitted starting a fire in a box of shavings in the school’s new industrial arts facility. Harold recalled quietly walking without fanfare to the sink in the rear, filling a bucket with water, and quietly doused the flames before returning to his desk.

Local authorities learned of the incident only when the troubled youth finally admitted to Harold, “I had never seen you excited and I wanted to see what you would do when you were excited.”

A relatively unknown teacher became an example of quiet consistency that aroused the aspirations of this young student. The teacher's quiet Christian consistency inspired a troubled youth to become a teacher, just like the mentor he had learned to admire.

Hopeful behavior and quiet, consistent living offer solid hope to individuals looking for answers. Hope encourages people to extend themselves, to reach upward, and to strive for new levels of achievement.

Following the television cameras into the Green House of John Hope Franklin, the late historian, I saw on my tv screen what Franklin called his “House of Hope.” There, I saw his numerous varieties of Orchid plant life, which he identified individually. In Franklin’s greenhouse I saw what he described as "something perpetually in bloom."

Thanksgiving reminds us that life is a house of hope. Here, we find available to the human heart the potential for hope in perpetual bloom. Our eternal hope greatly expands and multiplies those meanings that enrich our lives; without that eternal demension life loses much of its meaning.

In giving thanks, we experience renewal, and we become windows through which God often shines. So enjoy your turkey and cranberries, but be sure you give thanks to Him Who is the Giver of Every Good Gift (and Bless His Name for being able to touch another on your journey).

From Warner‘s World,
peace and grace,

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