1. Martin Rinkert was a minister in the little town of Eilenburg in Germany some 350 years ago. He was the son of a poor coppersmith, but somehow, he managed to work his way through an education. Finally, in the year 1617, he was offered the post of Archdeacon in his hometown parish. A year later, what has come to be known as the Thirty-Years-War broke out. His town was caught right in the middle.
In 1637, the massive plague that swept across the continent hit Eilenburg... people died at the rate of fifty a day and the man called upon to bury most of them was Martin Rinkert. In all, over 8,000 people died, including Martin’s own wife. His labors finally came to an end about 11 years later, just one year after the conclusion of the war. His ministry spanned 32 years, all but the first and the last overwhelmed by the great conflict that engulfed his town. It was tough for Martin Rinkert to be thankful. But he managed.
Listen to what he wrote:
Now thank we all our God
With heart and hands and voices;
Who wondrous things hath done,
In whom his world rejoices.
2. In the midst of darkness Rinkert was able to write these words we will sing this morning. Rinkert knew what it meant to be truly thankful.
3. For thankfulness is not about what it is that we have been given. It is rather an attitude. An attitude of gratitude. An attitude that we as believers should especially be familiar with.
4. We have seen those who have received much but are not thankful. They have an attitude of ingratitude. They are like the nine lepers who received a great gift but do not even take the time to say thanks. The sad part is not that the failed to say thanks, but that they would go through life without realizing how blessed they really were.
5. In some parts of Mexico, there are hot springs and cold springs side by side. Great for washing clothes! Women bring them, boil in hot, rinse in cold. Tourist watching said to guide: "I’ll bet they’re pretty grateful to God for these springs." Guide: "No seÒor, there is much grumbling because He provides no soap!"
6. When I was a controller we used to get annual bonuses. The first year this happened, everyone was very thankful. Whether they got $500 or $10,000. The next year the bonuses were again given. They were appreciated but not as much as the year before. The third year was not as profitable. And so the bonuses were reduced about 20%. Some of the people were unhappy. They had expected more. They had counted on it. It wasnít fair. They had worked just as hard as the year before. It is amazing how this gift which was once unexpected, and on top of what they had agreed to work for became something they expected and felt they deserved.
7. I believe all tend to see things the same way. We live so richly in this land compared to others. But do we really appreciate all we have or is it something we expect.
8. In our Colossians passage, we are told to sing with gratitude in our hearts to God. There is an interesting thing I learned this week as I examined the meaning of the word charis, the Greek for gratitude. This word can also be translated as grace. The KJV says that we are to be singing with GRACE in our hearts.