Two recent incidents reminded me of the importance of giving thanks.

The first occurred in early September when I was on Prince Edward Island for the celebration of the 200th Anniversary of the Presbytery of P.E.I. It was good to be there and meet with so many people.

The anniversary service began with everyone singing “All people that on earth do dwell.” We were able to “sing to the Lord with cheerful voice” without masks and as the organ and choir led us. I don’t think I have ever been so moved by “Auld 100th” as I was that evening in Zion Presbyterian Church in Charlottetown. Before that night, the most crowded room I had been in last was months ago when I had my second Covid vaccination in the Bob Fallis arena across the street from St. John’s Presbyterian Church.

Cursive "Give Thanks" against a background of a wheat field.

The psalm upon which the opening hymn for the anniversary service was based says, “Enter into God’s gates with thanksgiving” and “be thankful.”

Not everyone in Canada is able to gather as freely as we did in P.E.I. that night. Perhaps this Thanksgiving will be the first time you return in person to your faith community. As you enter into your church building, enter with thanksgiving to God.

The second event that reminded me of the importance of giving thanks was a ceremony in Bradford West Gwillimbury, Ontario, for the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation (Orange Shirt Day). An Indigenous Elder named White Eagle, whose mother was a Residential School Survivor, led us in a series of activities and reflections. When a bird flew by in full voice, White Eagle invited us to listen to the song of the raven. When a bee flew around his chair and drum, he urged us to hear the message of the bee saying to us, “just be…just be thankful.”

White Eagle urged us to say “thank you” using the Indigenous word Meegwetch. And he encouraged us to say Meegwetch to the Creator, the earth and sky, the elders and newborns, our town councillors, and our community.

For what do we have to be thankful for during the fourth wave of the pandemic?

Here is a partial list:

  1. For health and strength and daily food.
  2. For a public health-care system that doesn’t always get it right but is working hard to ensure we are all safe.
  3. For scientific research that has developed vaccines.
  4. For the love of families, friends and congregations.
  5. For God’s protection, care and presence.

Perhaps, like me, you have had incidents that have encouraged you to be thankful even in the midst of these difficult days.

May you have a blessed Thanksgiving.

A prayer of thanksgiving written by John Bradford, Martyr, 1555 (updated and edited):

Honour and praise be given to you, O Lord God Almighty, for all your mercies and loving-kindness. These benefits, most merciful God, like as we do acknowledge that we have received of your only goodness, even so we ask you, for your dear Son Jesus Christ’s sake, to grant us always your Holy Spirit, whereby we may continually grow in thankfulness towards you, to be “led into all truth,” and comforted in our adversities. O Lord, strengthen our faith: kindle it more in ferventness and love towards you, and our neighbours for your sake.

The Rev. Dr. Daniel Scott
Moderator of the 2021 General Assembly