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As we enter this season of fall, thoughts of thanksgiving well up in me. What a wondrous world we live in, especially here in Montana. We have so very much to be thankful for. And the Lord calls us to that gratitude every day. Scripture is filled with prayers of thanks and opportunities to give praise to God for all he has and will give us. The Psalms are a compendium of thanks for the wonders of God in creation and in our human interaction with one another. What a marvelous occasion to thank God for all the connections we have, all the people we know and love and who love us in return. It’s overwhelming, which is, I suppose, why we forget to be thankful sometimes. Too much too fast.

When the Jewish people of the Northern Kingdom (Israel) were exiled for their disobedience to God (Yehovah). The Assyrians who deported them moved pagan people from other conquered lands into Israel. The Assyrians mixed people from different countries together to keep any one national group from being large enough to rise up against their conquerors. The imported people brought their religious practices with them. Worse, they intermarried with the remaining Jews. The Jewish people from the Southern Kingdom (Judah) had antipathy for the Jews that intermarried with the foreigners, as this was a violation of God’s law.

We know little about the afterlife. So, as the process of aging pushes us toward our final exit, we search for how to deal with unresolved issues - including those of infidelity and betrayal - in the sacred texts and beliefs of our faith. George Carlin once observed: “I was thinking about how people seem to read the Bible a whole lot more as they get older; then it dawned on me - they're cramming for their final exam.” This is a humorous but urgent insight for elders dealing with guilt in the autumn of their lives.