I suspect that many of us don’t recognize the name Martin Rinkart. He was a German Lutheran clergyman who is best known for his beautiful testament of faith put to music.
Rinkart served in the walled town of Eilenburg, Germany, during the horrors of the Thirty Years War of 1618-1648. The town became an overcrowded refuge for the surrounding area, with its fugitives suffering from disease and famine. At the beginning of 1637, the year of the Great Pestilence, there were four ministers in the community. Not much later, one abandoned his post and Rinkhart buried the other two, leaving him as the sole pastor for the city.
As the only pastor left, he often conducted funeral services for as many as 40 to 50 persons a day—some 4,480 in all. In May of that year, he buried his own wife. I can’t imagine his stamina and faith during these difficult times.
In the face of overwhelming pressure, constant risk and horrendous conditions, Rinkart never stopped ministering to the people of his city. He gave away nearly everything he owned to those in need. It was a very dark and difficult time for everyone, but Christ’s strength kept his light shining.
After nearly 30 years of ceaseless struggles, it began to look like the war was finally ending. Peace would soon return to the region. Wanting to give his children a song to sing to God in thanks at the dinner table, Rinkart sat down and composed what would become one of the most popular Thanksgiving hymns of all time: Now Thank We All Our God.
While living in a world dominated by death, Rinkart wrote this timeless prayer of thanksgiving for his children—a reminder to be grateful to God for all things, at all times:
Now thank we all our God
With hearts and hands and voices;
Who wondrous things hath done,
In whom this world rejoices.
Who, from our mother’s arms,
Hath led us
on our way,
With countless gifts of love,
And still is ours today.
November brings the cherished holiday of Thanksgiving when many families gather around the table to give thanks for their many blessings. Here at Marvin we will gather for worship on Sunday, Nov. 24, to celebrate the completion of the restoration of our stained glass windows in the sanctuary. After almost a year of work, it’s time to celebrate our beautiful sanctuary and the many faithful, generous members who supported this restoration project! I hope you will be in worship on this important day and join us for the celebration.
As a spiritual practice to enlarge my gratitude during the month of November, I will I say thank you to God, someone else, or express one blessing that I am thankful for at least 10 times a day in preparation for Thanksgiving. I will also keep a gratitude journal. If you would like to join me in this gratitude challenge, just send me an e-mail, a text or call me and let me know. Let’s transform our lives by leaning into Colossians 3:17: “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”