25 November 2020

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

I write to you from Nigeria. God willing, I should be back in Houston on Friday for a belated Thanksgiving celebration.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

In late 1621 Plymouth colony statesman, Edward Winslow, wrote the following about the very first Thanksgiving in North America by the Pilgrims:

Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after have a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors; they four in one day killed as much fowl, as with a little help beside, served the company almost a week, at which time amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst 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, 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 at 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 150 words above do not tell us the whole story in regard to the very difficult circumstances surrounding that first Thanksgiving celebration. But despite all their troubles they gave thanks to God as they rejoiced because of “the goodness of God” to them.

This Thursday November 26, 2020 we will be celebrating Thanksgiving. Like the early Pilgrims we will be giving thanks to God for all the blessings of this life in word and action as we rejoice and eat with family and others or perhaps without family members and friends due to the pandemic and political fall-out in our country. For many it will be a thanksgiving filled with tears due to loss of jobs or reduction in income or the death of family members or friends among other troubles of this present time. This has been a very difficult year for us all. Humanly speaking, it is difficult for many to rejoice and give thanks to God in times such as this.

But I encourage you, as the Bible teaches, to “Rejoice always, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”(1 Thessalonians 5:16,18). Despite our present circumstances the Lord has been gracious to us in “the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory.” His love for us in Christ remains immeasurable.

So as we praise God for all his mercies in the midst of our grief and loses the Lord will give us hope and peace and perhaps transform our valleys to  refreshing springs because the Lord is good and his mercy endures for ever. And as William Cowper put it, and it’s hard to imagine, is the truth that “Behind a frowning providence God hides a smiling face.”

I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving!

Let us pray:

Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we your unworthy servants give you humble thanks for all your goodness and loving-kindness to us and to all whom you have made. We bless you for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all for your immeasurable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. And, we pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies, that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth your praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives, by giving up ourselves to your service, and by walking before you in holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen.

Warm regards,

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Felix Orji, OSB, DD. D. Min
Diocesan Bishop
Anglican Diocese of the West.
Coordinating Bishop of CONNAM.
Holy Trinity Cathedral Church
8402 Howell Sugarland Road
Houston, Texas, 77083

“We are justified by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone. True faith always yields the fruit of obedience to one degree or another.” – Dr. R. C. Sproul

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