How often do we say to one another, “at least we have our health and our families”? While we may still say it, this is no longer the sweeping statement we were once able to make. Before this year, I only thought about pandemics as something that happened in other places at other times. Perhaps it’s my American sense of privilege or my Pollyanna attitude, but the idea that our health is potentially at risk even if we are doing “all the right things” is new to me.
Family gatherings are something I’ve taken for granted, too. But recently, a town near us of 13,000 people made national news because Covid-19 cases are so rampant. That town feels like a metropolis compared to our tiny town of 1,200; however, our circumstances are not much different. Like many of my neighbors, I’m currently quarantined because my husband and I have both lost our sense of taste and smell. We missed out on a family dinner on Sunday, and we will have our own tiny Thanksgiving on Thursday.
In a year where things are unclear, tensions are heartbreaking, and uncertainty is rampant, what can we be thankful for? Sometimes it feels like there is nothing to be thankful for in 2020.
But we can be thankful for the things that remain unchanged regardless of any circumstances, even circumstances this midwestern, small town, Pollyanna attitude, quarantined mother of four has never given a thought to before.
We are thankful for God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.
He knows our circumstances, and he knows us. He created us and this world we are living in. Our Heavenly Father has given us everything and still takes care of everything. Even when we can not gather with family, God the Father still cares for them. Even when our health or the health of loved ones fails, he still cares for us. He still defends us against all danger and protects us from all evil. He does this all out of his great love for the people he created, not because of anything we do. When our anxieties are running high, we can cast them all on him because he cares for us (1 Peter 5:7) That is something to be thankful for.
We are thankful for Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Plate, was crucified, died and was buried. We are thankful for his decent into hell, his resurrection three days later, his ascent into heaven and his position at the right hand of God. We are thankful he is the one judging the living and the dead.
Jesus is true God and became true man on our behalf. He has felt the pain of being human. He has experienced the death of loved ones. He knows death for himself. This year we may feel the threat of death or separation because of death more acutely. The resurrection of our Lord is something that we can always be thankful for. Regardless of circumstances, even the reality of death, we have hope. We have the incarnation, death, and resurrection to look to, and that is something to be thankful for.
We are thankful for the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
We may not be able to minister to one another as we did last year, but the Holy Spirit is still at work. The Holy Christian Church is not going anywhere. We have not come to Jesus on our own. The Holy Spirit called us by the Gospel, enlightened us with his gifts, and keeps us in the faith. The Holy Spirit has done the same thing for each one of us. The work of the Holy Spirit will not cease his work because church doors are locked or sickness is spreading, and that is something to be thankful for.
If 2020 has thrown you so many curve balls you can’t find things to be thankful for, take a peek at the creeds. They are filled with things that we can be ever thankful for.