Rector's Ramblings - November 23, 2023
I always love those visual brain teasers that invite you to look at an image, only to discover that it’s two images in one. Do we see a horse or a frog? A duck or a rabbit? These optical illusions are actually both things at once. Some will tell us that the one we see first defines our personality. I’m not so sure about that. I suspect it’s more to do with perspective. I think the same can be said about spiritual illusions – those moments when we can see multiple things at once and we get to choose, consciously or otherwise, which one we see. There, too, perspective is everything.
Thanksgiving is a time to recognize the many blessings we enjoy. As we do this, there is a mirrored reality to our thanks, because we can see what it might look like without them. Maybe we’ve lived without them before, or we see others in the world who are not similarly blessed. The world is full of hunger; we are thankful that we have food overflowing our Thanksgiving table. As we gather with family, we know that many are lonely or grieving. We have warm homes and large tables; we don’t have to go far to find those who have neither. We read terrible news out of Israel and Gaza, Africa, or Ukraine; our lives are secure and peaceful for the most part. Both things are true at the same time – it is a spiritual illusion in this regard, and we have eyes to see both.
This is a day to be grateful and thank God, and to mean it. Not out of comparison, like the prayers Jesus warns us about: “thank God I’m not like them!” Just thankful for what is. We can also allow our hearts to be moved by what our eyes see, and our ears hear. From the abundance of our blessings, God calls to us to make a difference with what we have, be that security, power, money, food, love, or health. We don’t want to see only the blessings that surround us and then stop looking. We also don’t want to only see need and want, and forget that there is much to celebrate, too. Both realities are true and must be seen together, alongside one another.
I don’t know what it says about our personalities or our faith to acknowledge what we tend to see first. I suspect it changes back and forth for a whole host of reasons as our perspectives change. If we are saying our prayers and drawing closer to God, our perspective will naturally change as a result. Hopefully, it will become more closely aligned with the perspective of our Lord. He gave thanks and he offered challenge where things were not right – at the same time. Hopefully we can too.
Accept, O Lord, our thanks and praise for all that you have
done for us. We thank you for the splendor of the whole
creation, for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life,
and for the mystery of love.
We thank you for the blessing of family and friends, and for
the loving care which surrounds us on every side.
We thank you for setting us at tasks which demand our best
efforts, and for leading us to accomplishments which satisfy
and delight us.
We thank you also for those disappointments and failures
that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone.
Above all, we thank you for your Son Jesus Christ; for the
truth of his Word and the example of his life; for his steadfast
obedience, by which he overcame temptation; for his dying,
through which he overcame death; and for his rising to life
again, in which we are raised to the life of your kingdom.
Grant us the gift of your Spirit, that we may know him and
make him known; and through him, at all times and in all
places, may give thanks to you in all things. Amen.
Photo credits: Both optical illusion images are in the Public Domain