Minister: History reminds us to be thankful

Published 9:31 am Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Using text from Deuteronomy, and a story from his own childhood, the Rev. Bob Madsen reminded those attending Tuesday’s Community Thanksgiving service that the stories of our past put the meaning of this week’s holiday into context.

“Understanding why we’re thankful is an important part of being thankful,” he said.

When Deuteronomy opens, he said, the people have finished a sojourn in the wilderness, and are ready to cross over to the land promised to them generations ago.

“Moses commands them all to sit down,” Madsen said. “Moses had something important to say, and he basically speaks the book of Deuteronomy into existence. “He tells them over and over again, “Remember. Remember Remember.

“When life is good and comfortable, it is easy to forget,” he said, adding that Moses was saying, “You didn’t just stumble into this place, God brought you here. You didn’t just decide this was a nice place to live, God gave it to you.

The Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand, a terrifying display of power, and of signs and wonders.”

Moses reminded his people to take the first fruits of the harvest in appreciation of all God had done for them, he said.

“If they remembered how harshly they were treated, perhaps they would remember to treat others less harshly.

Remembering what God had done for them, they were to have a generous heart, he said. “A generous heart is an open heart, it’s one that lives with joy in the midst of God’s world among God’s people.

“Deuteronomy isn’t just an Old Testament story,” Madsen said. “It is your story, it’s my story. It’s our history. It’s the story of family of God.

“In this week that we give thanks, I invite us all to remember just why we are thankful,” he said. “We cried to the lord. The Lord heard our voice and brought us to this place. Remember.”

The annual service is sponsored by the Greater Andalusia Ministerial Association and was hosted this year by St. Mary’s Episcopal Church. Other worship leaders included the Rev. Cindy Howard of St. Mary’s, the Rev. Leroy Cole of the Christian Service Center; the Rev. Clyde Northrop of Salem Baptist; choir director Dwight Crigger of First Baptist; and organist John Beasley of St. Mary’s, First Methodist and First Baptist. Readers were Ethel Robertson, First Baptist Whatley Street; the Rev. Fred Karthaus, First Baptist East Three Notch; Mayor Earl Johnson; and Jan Morris.

A community choir sang “Come We Together,” a Thanksgiving hymn written by Dan Shehan and Joe Wingard for St. Mary’s.