Lessons from Lincoln

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Spielberg’s new movie Lincoln, from the reviews at least, seems to deliver. I know it’s on a list my family and I have to see this Thanksgiving. There’s another reason too.

About a year ago, Roger,  a guy in the men’s Bible study I attend on Friday mornings in a supermarket cafe here in Richmond, VA started to grow his beard. He plays French horn in the Richmond Symphony orchestra, but moonlighted as an extra when Spielberg came to town to shoot his movie. The guys in our study got a kick out his thick bushy beard that reached at least 10 inches from his chin like some weird hairy dinner plate. Maybe we will get a peek at Roger in the movie.

That’s one reason to see it, but perhaps another is to think about Thanksgiving. Honestly, I find it quite hard to be thankful. There’s some guilt about this, knowing I should. Yet, much in our national life, let alone on the international scene and even in my own life makes me ambivalent about gratitude.

If I look back to Lincoln, then I guess I realize life wasn’t exactly a picnic in the 1860′s. How could anyone facing Civil War and slavery dedicate a day for “Thanksgiving  and praise to our beneficent Father who dwells in the heavens”? That’s  pretty sobering.

Or, another example, looking forward, would be the Apostle John. As an exile under a hostile regime, life wasn’t exactly a picnic for him either. However, through John’s writings,  I see our future destiny: a new heaven and earth where our beneficent Father dwells in our  midst forever.

Can we be thankful looking back and thankful for our sure and certain hope in the future even in the midst of circumstances that make us ambivalent at best? Can we?

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