“Now thank we all our God, with hearts and hands and voices; who wondrous things hath done, in whom His world rejoices; who from our mother’s arms hath blessed us on our way, with countless gifts of love and still is ours today.
O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us; with ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us; and keep us in His grace and guide us when perplexed, and free us from all ills in this world and the next.”
The author of this beautiful hymn is overflowing with thanksgiving to the Lord for all His goodness. It sounds like he has been greatly blessed in every way. Nothing could be further from the truth!
Martin Rinkart was a Lutheran minister who came to Eilenburg, Saxony (in present day Germany) at the beginning of the Thirty Years’ War. The walled city of Eilenburg became a refuge for political and military fugitives, but the result was overcrowding, deadly pestilence and famine. Armies overran it three times.
The combination of overcrowding, ruined crops, and a crippled infrastructure produced a famine so extreme that it is said that thirty or forty people fought in the streets to claim, not toilet paper, but a dead cat or crow. The plague that followed in 1637 quickly spread throughout the town, claiming more than eight thousand persons in a single year.
The Rinkart home became a refuge for the victims, even though he was often hard-pressed to provide for his own family. During the height of the plague, Rinkart was the only surviving pastor in Eilenburg, conducting as many as 50 funerals in a day. He performed some 4,480 funerals that year, including that of his wife.
Still, Rinkart labored on with an almost inexplicable trust in God and a readiness to give thanks. Even though worn out and prematurely aged by the time a long looked-for peace ended the Thirty Years War in 1648 (some fourteen months before his own death), the poet turned preacher left behind an incredible testimony to that faith in the hymn we have far too often relegated only to the Thanksgiving season. Written just as the plague began to hit his hometown, Nun Danket Alle Gott (Now Thank We All Our God), became the theme of Martin Rinkart’s life. (adapted from Wikipedia and wesleyancovenant.org/2020/03/16/pastoring-in-plague-times.)
At this Thanksgiving time, I invite you to overflow with gratitude for God’s faithfulness to you, even during troublesome times like we are experiencing in our nation and world. Can we be like Martin Rinkhart and have a truly thankful heart, in spite of great adversity and deprivation? Rinkart knew thanksgiving comes from love of God, not from outward circumstances. The Lord is Good and is worthy of all praise and thanksgiving!
Please join us this Sunday, November 29, at 10:35am as we begin our new Christmas series based on Isaiah’s prophecy (9:6), “His Name shall be Called.” We start this Sunday with “His Name shall be called Wonderful!” (Come early and be part of Bible Study classes for all ages at 9:30am.) After the 10:35am service, we will Deck the Halls. Join in decorating the church building for Christmas, plus enjoy a time of fellowship and food.
Our 9th annual Christmas Lunch & Treasure Trade for ladies and girls takes place Saturday, December 5. If you would like to donate new or gently used items, please bring them to the church building by December 2.
Let’s end the year with a Bang! After the 10:35am service on December 27, we will share in an ono-licious Potluck Meal. Bring your favorite foods to add to the table. I look forward to celebrating with you!
Mahalo and Aloha ke Akua!