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Letter From The Rector

Thanksgiving

I wonder if you’ve ever heard of a man named Martin Rinkert. Martin Rinkert was a Lutheran minister in the little town of Eilenburg in Germany some 400 years ago. His family was poor, but somehow Martin managed to work his way through a theological education. Finally, in the year 1617, Martin was offered the post of Archdeacon in his hometown parish. He humbly accepted the call. Just one year later, what would become known as the Thirty Years War broke out. Martin’s little town of Eilenburg was caught right in the middle.

Then, 20 years later (in 1637), the Bubonic Plague that had swept across Europe hit Eilenburg. In all over 8,000 townspeople died, and the man called upon to bury most of them (sometimes as many as 40-50 a day-including his own wife) was Archbishop Martin Rinkert. Martin himself died about 11 years later, just one year after the conclusion of the Thirty Years War. Martin Rinkert’s ministry spanned 32 years, all but the first and the last of which were overwhelmed by the war and plague that engulfed his home town. It was difficult for Martin Rinkert to be grateful-but somehow, he managed to be. Listen to what he wrote just a short time before his death:

Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices;

Who wondrous things have done, in whom his world rejoices.

You may recognize those words as part of the first verse of a hymn (397) we sing, typically around Thanksgiving. Martin Rinkert was able to write those words in the midst of the darkness of the Thirty Years War and the Bubonic Plague and personal tragedy because he understood what it meant to be truly thankful. He had learned to live his life without letting conditions control him. He could be content because his happiness was not based upon circumstances; it was based upon his relationship with God. He knew that as long as he had God, he had all he needed within him, for it was God who gave him the strength for life.

This attitude is a way of life with which we as Christians should be very familiar. It’s important, I think, for us to pause every now and then and contemplate this and remember what we have and to thank God for those things because they come to us through His grace. Being thankful takes our mind off our wants for a while and focuses them on what we have-our blessings. May we be forever thankful!

Please join us for our annual Thanksgiving Eve Eucharist on November 27th at 7:30 PM. While in past years we have taken part in a community service with other local churches, this year we will take a break from that and hold our own service here at St. Peter’s. I hope you will join us as we give thanks to Almighty God for the many ways he has blessed our church and our families.

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Peace and Love,
John+