Martin Rinkart was a German Lutheran deacon during the time of the Thirty years war and a plague that swept through Central Europe.  During this terrible time in history he buried five thousand of his parishioners and wrote a song that we often sing: “Now Thank we all Our God.”  The epitaph in his church reads: “He was a light in our darkness. His thanksgiving in all circumstances brought food when there was no food, hope when there was only despair, peace when all around was the ravages of war, love when most hearts were filled with hate, joy in small things when our hearts were filled with sorrow.”

This coming week we will be celebrating Thanksgiving.  As we celebrate may the words of Martin Rinkart’s song echo in our hearts: “Now thank we all our God with heart and hands and voices: who wondrous things hath done, in whom his world rejoices.  Who, from our mother’s arms hath blest us on our way with countless gifts of love and still is ours today.”

Thanksgiving!  May I thank God for the abilities I have and use them for the common good.  May I thank God for all that has been done for me by doing things for others.  May I thank God for beauty by working to make the world more beautiful. May I thank God for the strength and inspiration I have received from Him by striving to be strength and inspiration to others.  And above all may I give thanks that God created me in his image (Genesis 1:27) and that Jesus died on the cross for our salvation and gives us his body and blood in the Eucharist.

Not too long ago I came across a letter that I wrote to my dad.  My dad was a good, hard working man who loved God and his family deeply.  I regret that my dad never got to see that letter. To all of you, I encourage you to write letters to those close to you, thanking them and telling them how grateful you are for their presence in your lives.

Years ago in the state of Tennessee a baby was born to an unwed mother.  As he grew up people would ask him: “Hey boy, Who’s your daddy?” He would do everything he could to avoid hearing that question.  Then one day a new preacher came to his church and he said the benediction so fast that he got caught walking out with the crowd. When he got to the back of the church the new preacher put his hand on his shoulder and asked him, “Son, who’s your daddy?”  Suddenly, everyone around him became very quiet. The new preacher, quickly sizing up the situation, said to the boy: “Wait a minute! I know who you are! I see the resemblance now. You are a child of God.” Patting the boy on the shoulder he said, “Boy, you’ve got a great inheritance!  Go and claim it!”

Yes, we have a great inheritance.  Let us be thankful for it. Let us go and claim it!