This is the beginning of a prayer written by a German pastor for his children to recite. Take a moment and guess which holiday his prayer fits best based on the circumstances in which it was written.
“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.”
What do you think? Thanksgiving? Christmas? Easter? Mother’s Day?
These are all good guesses. But the holiday which best suits this prayer is Memorial Day.
Harry Genet, in Integrity of Men, wrote about the genesis of this prayer.
German pastor, Martin Rinkart, served in the walled town of Eilenburg during the horrors of the Thirty Years War of 1618-1648. Eilenburg became an overcrowded refuge for the surrounding area. The fugitives suffered from epidemic and famine.
At the beginning of 1637, the year of the Great Pestilence, there were four ministers in Eilenburg. But one abandoned his post for healthier areas and could not be persuaded to return. Pastor Rinkart officiated at the funerals of the other two. As the only pastor left, he often conducted services for as many as 40 to 50 persons a day—some 4,480 in all.
In May of that year, his wife died. By the end of the year, the refugees had to be buried in trenches without services.
It was in this world of war, disease and death that Pastor Rinkart wrote the “Now thank we all our God… prayer for his children to offer to the Lord.
Pastor Rinkart reflects the way we, as Christians, should respond in the midst of difficulties, distress, and especially in death. The scriptures teach us “…that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
We know it. We believe it. But can we apply it?
Thanks be to God that He will give us the strength to live it out just like Pastor Rinkhart if we fully trust and depend on Him.
Take a moment and reread his prayer. Regardless of life circumstances, would you recite this prayer?
Something to think about…