By Bishop Mary Virginia Taylor
Once again, my fading memory is renewed by the vibrant hues of red and gold leaves against the crystal blue cloudless sky.
Last week driving to Lake Junaluska, N.C., for a national gathering of workers with young people, I found myself in the beauty of the fall foliage at its peak. The humidity was low, the air was crisp and the sunlit leaves were aglow. Around each curve was another spectacular view urging my soul to sing, “Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.”
It is good to appreciate the beauty that God creates around us. I have lived through many autumns. Each year, another fall rolls around with its big orange pumpkins and potted mums with yellow, white, and purple blooms. I realize that I have seen fall leaves before, I have bought a bag of Winesap apples from a roadside stand before and I have hiked up a mountain trail to the top before.
So why am I so enamored to act like one of the “peepers” who come from everywhere to see the leaves?
It is simple. My memories of leaf-looking in years past cannot do justice to the incredible beauty of the present reality. I tried to capture the colors on my cell phone camera, but the colors just did not come through. God has done it again. The creator has splashed colors everywhere, and this creature can only say awe, can only say praise.
“Don’t forget a single blessing!” is the challenge of the 103rd Psalm. “He forgives your sins – every one. He heals your diseases – every one. He redeems you from hell – saves your life! He crowns you with love and mercy – a paradise crown. He wraps you in goodness – beauty eternal. He renews your youth – you’re always young in his presence.”
How can we not remember all that God has done for us? Yet over and over the Bible reminds us that we are in danger of amnesia. Memory loss can be a serious problem. Our understanding of our lives and who we are gets lost.
Moses worried that the children of Israel would forget God’s generosity and care. In the wilderness, they were vulnerable and needed God for everything. God always came through, and they counted on it. Once they entered the Promised Land, life got good. They had everything they dreamed of, and it became easier to forget the source of all their gifts.
The message of the church has always been that all we have comes to us as a gift from our Creator. We are stewards of all that has been entrusted to us. We are not the source of our gifts.
During this season of Thanksgiving, it is my prayer that God’s people will live in a spirit of gratitude and generosity. We have been blessed beyond measure. We must live lives that praise God and forget not all his benefits.
How does the creature say grace, how does the creature say thanks?