It is appropriate to give thanks to God during every moment of every day. It is appropriate also for us to give thanks to God together with all of the people in our land on a special National Day of Thanksgiving. When we prepare to offer a worship service on a National Day of Thanksgiving, however, we realize that there are no biblical texts that refer specifically to our nation as we know it today. We realize also that worship services on our National Day of Thanksgiving should be inclusive of all of the people who live in our nation. They should not be limited to one group of Christians. They should not be limited to Christians. They should include recognition for the natives who were displaced and whose lives and culture were destroyed by those of our ancestors who immigrated to our land. The worship services should be public, open, and conducted with integrity.
The symbolic images of “shepherd” and of “king” are predominant in these texts. In the texts that are from the Israelite Scriptures it is, of course, the Lord who is “like a shepherd” and “like a king.” In the Newer Testament texts, it is Jesus raised from the dead as Lord and Christ who is “like a shepherd” and “like a king.” The symbolic image of “shepherd” connotes tenderness, caring, love, and immanence. The symbolic image of “king” connotes power, strength, force, and transcendence. Both the Lord God of Israel and Jesus as Lord and Son of God are perceived as having the characteristics of an ideal shepherd and an ideal king.
The emphasis in many of these texts is on living our lives in the full light of the Lord while we wait for the redemption that the Lord has planned for us. There is a sharp contrast between those who live in the darkness and those who live in the light.