Give Thanks for He is Good!

By Shannon Youell

We have so much to be thankful for. We really do.

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A large part of the work we have done in Church planting this year has been with churches that have formed and are forming around people new to Canada. It is a privilege to work with people from cultures we are not that familiar with, as we are blessed to share in their friendship, their cultures, their journeys of often unimaginable magnitude, and their rootedness in God-with-them in the midst of it all.

Often, it is these folk who remind us of the goodness of the land we live in and that we should never take our relatively comfortable and privileged existences for granted. As “old” Canadians, we have much to learn with and from our new brothers and sisters who now come to us, and share together with us the very human struggles of the trials and sorrows of life in a broken creation, finding hope through faith, in this land of plenty, and in friends new and old.

When God created all things, He looked upon them and declared that they are good, very good.  The Hebrew word “good” is translated tov. Rather than our Greco-Roman understanding of good as directed toward the subject being named “good,” tov understands goodness to being “tied together,” inter-connected, relationally dependent on those ties.  In Metalanguage in Interaction, Yael Maschler highlights that tov is “inherently relational; a word that occurs in the context of relationship” (Quoted from footnotes in The Very Good Gospel by Lisa Sharon Harper).

This understanding of good/goodness as interactive broadens my understanding of gratitude and thankfulness. The very act of being grateful and thankful connects–even richer: interconnects–us with God, with creation, with others.  Thus we find God’s goodness and faithfulness in one another as we journey together.

Poet Malcolm Guite, in his volume Sounding the Seasons, gifts us with this poem of thanksgiving:

Thanksgiving starts with thanks for mere survival,
Just to have made it through another year
With everyone still breathing. But we share
So much beyond the outer roads we travel;
Our interweavings on a deeper level,
The modes of life embodied souls can share,
The unguessed blessings of our being here,
Threads of connection no one can unravel.
So I give thanks for our deep coinherence,
Inwoven in the web of God’s own grace,
Pulling us through the grave and gate of death.
I thank him for the truth behind appearance,
I thank him for his light in every face,
I thank him for us all, with every breath.

As God’s children, we are interconnected, and for this I am ever so grateful for this Thanksgiving.  It is a gift to be ‘good’ with each and every one of you.  “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good (tov); his love endures forever” (Psalm 118:1).

May the tov of the Lord shine on us all, in us all, and through us all, for the glory and renown of our gracious God.  Happy Thanksgiving friends.

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