[forthright] The Essential Subject

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From: Forthright Magazine <ba@...>
Date: Mon, 22 Nov 2004 14:34:12 -0600
Forthright Magazine
Straight to the Cross

COLUMN: Final Phase

The Essential Subject
by J. Randal Matheny

Brazilians have a Thanksgiving Day, but nobody has
ever heard of it. Why is that?

While I leave the answer to anthropologists and
sociologists, the United States' Thanksgiving Day
is a part of the country's basic, institutional,
initial values. From a religious, Christian
(broadly defined) impulse.

The true Christian has thanksgiving ingrained in
his deepest core. More than a yearly observance,
gratitude is the well-spring of his being. Each
day presents new reasons to pray a thank-you to
the Father and to find in nearly every person and
in every situation a motive of thanksgiving.

Some things are to be taken literally in the
Bible, others should be understood figuratively.
This command belongs to the first order:

"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the
will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1
Thessalonians 5:18).

First off, I'm grateful for what my wife prays
for. She prays the "Woman's Prayer" daily: "Dear
Lord, I pray for Wisdom, to understand a man,
Love, to forgive him, and Patience, for his moods,
because, Lord, if I pray for Strength, I'll just
beat him to death ..."

The day she prays for strength (with a capital
"S," yet), I'm a goner.

Second, I'm grateful for

* wonderful kids flying the nest,
* adolescents who behave like real human beings,
* supportive parents who have put up with our
being on the mission field for decades,
* churches who have stuck with us for all this
* the Internet that keeps us connected,
* new Christians and churches in our region,
* Christian writers and editors I know,
* the gift of listening (so they tell me),
* okay, I'll quit before I lose you.

One more: I'm grateful for having lived and worked
in Brazil for the last 20 years, as of November
28. This country, these people whom I came to
teach, have taught me so much about life, faith,
hardship, zeal, joy.

Saturday, the good brethren in our region shared a
special moment of celebration with us. On the wall
and on the gigantic cake, hearts divided with a
Brazilian flag on one side and the American flag
on the other.

Those hearts are not actually divided, but united;
not split, but welded, as we have not only formed
our own "third culture," but the melding of the
two in a Christian bond that vibrates the cultural
strings and transcends race, class, language, and

As Paul calls it in Ephesians, it's the "heavenly
realms" here and now.

To cherish this, and to thank God for such a
blessing, is the essential subject.

Not just this week, but every day.

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