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Pastor's Pen: Pencils and Thanksgiving

Updated: Jan 25, 2023


O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.”

-- Psalm 107:1

Despite the challenges that certainly exist, we live in an amazing world. Take for instance, how interconnected and complicated our economy is. To make that point, the economist Leonard Reed published an essay in 1958 entitled, “I, Pencil.” Reed considers the myriad of components that come together in the making of a simple pencil such as cedar, lacquer, graphite, ferrule, factice, pumice, wax, and glue. He also mentions the number of people involved from lumberjacks and factory workers to the lighthouse keeper who makes sure the shipment arrives at port. Of course, things have changed since 1958. In fact, the world of “iPhone” is even more interconnected than the world of “I, Pencil.” No one person can create a pencil. It takes people, a society, and an economy. It also takes God. As Reed himself acknowledges, speaking for the pencil itself, “I, Pencil, am a complex combination of miracles: a tree, zinc, copper, graphite, and so on.” For example, only God has the ability to bring a tree into existence.

If a pencil is such a profound accomplishment, then what should we say of our own lives? Consider the contributions of parents, doctors, teachers, neighbors, and friends. Consider the freedoms and safety we experience as citizens of the United States. Consider the culture that has been handed to us from previous generations. Then consider what God has given--forgiveness, a new life in Christ, and a family in faith. Our accomplishments are not our own. We are part of something bigger. It’s humbling. There are so many who deserve our thanks. If you have a family, a farm, a business, a job, or even a roof over your head, our hard work rests on the gifts of others. As George Washington once said, “Nothing is a greater stranger to my breast, or a sin that my soul more abhors, than that black and detestable one, ingratitude.”

This Thanksgiving season, we should give acknowledge that life consists of gifts small and great. We should give thanks to our friends and family. We should offer our praise of our gracious God. In turn, our gratitude should inspire our own gift-giving. What gifts can we give to those of our neighbors who are struggling? What gifts can we give to our children, our community, our church, and our country?

Grace and Peace, Pastor James Hodsden

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