Give Thanks in All Circumstances

The last twenty months have been difficult for individuals, but especially for families. We have grown tired of social and physical distancing. The spreads on family tables for Thanksgiving meals last year were far smaller in many cases. The table prayers offered last year often included a petition that God would deliver us from this pestilence and allow families to gather together again. While many families will be able to celebrate together this year, God has not yet fully delivered us from the pandemic. When we consider what the Scriptures say about our circumstances, this side of eternity, we are not promised lives of comfort and ease. Yet, our Lord would have us to look upon His gifts with glad and sincere hearts. Our Lord calls us to give thanks to Him in all circumstances, good and bad, times of plenty and times of scarcity. For our faithful Shepherd has promised that He will give us all that we need to support this body and life.

It is why Christians can sing hymns of joy and praise at funerals. It is why we can rejoice, even in our sufferings. Our good and gracious God has promised that nothing in all creation can separate us from His love, which is ours in Christ Jesus. This is why we have so many things for which we can give thanks to God once again this time of year. There may be fears associated with the pandemic. Many may be anxious about the economy. There are some who have lost loved ones recently. Most of endured some type of hardship in the last year. However, as congregations, families and individuals take time from their hectic lives on the last Thursday in November, we have so much for which we give thanks to God.

We can bear witness to the world around us about the faithfulness of God as we offer to God our sacrifices of praise and worship, talents and treasures. As our families gather around tables large and small, we give thanks to God not simply for food, family and football, but for God’s faithfulness through this pandemic. We give thanks to God for all of His First Article gifts for the body and for all of His Second and Third Article gifts for the soul. Whether the table is set for one or twenty-one, we offer to God our thanks for His gracious providing for here in time and there in eternity. May God bless and keep you and yours in His loving care in all the days ahead and may you receive His gifts with humble thanks!

Fraternally in Christ,

President Lee Hagan

Rev. Dr. R. Lee Hagan was elected as the fifth president of the Missouri District-LCMS in 2015.  He is a 1992 graduate of Concordia College (now University), Seward, Nebraska.  He graduated from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis with a Master of Divinity in 1996 and Doctor of Ministry in 2011.  Dr. Hagan served as associate pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Evansville, Indiana from 1996-2002.  In 2002, he was called to serve as senior pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Concordia, Missouri until he was elected district president.  Additionally, he served as the Interim Director of LCMS Rural and Small Town Mission from 2011-2012.  He has previously served as Missouri District first vice-president from 2012-2015, fourth vice-president from 2011-2012, and chairman of the Board for Congregational Services from 2006-2011.  He has presented workshops and retreats on a host of ministry topics including elders, rural ministry, outreach and ministry to inactives.  He has written articles for Lutheran Witness, Concordia Historical Quarterly and Missio Apostolica.  He has led mission trips to Cambodia, China, Guatemala and the Bahamas.  Dr. Hagan is married to Jill (nee Johnson), who works as a speech-language pathologist.  They have two children, Caroline and Jack.