Over the internet, through the Zoom
To grandmother’s house we go;
This Thanksgiving Day, we’ll just have to pray
Our Wi-Fi sees us through.

Over the internet, through the Zoom
It’s how this year must go!
We’ll all stay home, we dare not roam,
As COVID is making it so.

(with apologies to Lydia Maria Child)

In this year filled with unexpected challenges and unforeseen disappointments, I recognize that many of us are uncertain how we are going to navigate a season so filled with traditions when we just can’t do what we are accustomed to doing. We may have smaller gatherings at our holiday tables; we may be concerned about friends or family members who are or have been suffering from COVID-19; we may be struggling to find ways to mourn the loss of loved ones when our customary rituals of grieving are not available to us; we may be feeling disconnected from all that we love and hold dear. In the midst of it all, we may find it challenging to name much for which we can give thanks on this day dedicated to the same.

And yet, the words of the psalmists’ familiar refrain echo in our hearts: “O give thanks to the Lord, who is good; whose steadfast love endures forever.” (Psalm 106:1) Even in the midst of conflict, suffering, fear, and uncertainty, we are invited to give thanks. Even when we cannot gather with family and friends around our dinner table or our siblings in Christ around the sacramental table, we are invited to give thanks. Even in this year that seems to have moved from the penitence and fasting of Lent directly into the hope-filled longing of Advent, we are invited to give thanks.

God’s steadfast love has never left us, and even though my mind and my heart are longing for a future in which all this conflict, fear, and uncertainty will be behind us, the words of the psalmist invite me to pause and give thanks, right here, right now. Whatever this season looks like for you, your family, your congregation, I pray that we can all experience at least a moment or two when God’s grace, and love, and hope break into our lives and move us to say, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:4)

In Thanksgiving hope,
Bishop Paul Erickson

© 2017 Greater Milwaukee Synod

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