Like clockwork I can look at those Maples just to the side of the church, the ones that are near the welcome center, and know that Thanksgiving is near. These trees just blaze, like flares signaling that the time of giving thanks is near.
Are you good at giving thanks? I am not talking about saying thank you to the server who brings your food or the teller that cash’s your check – although it is important to say thank you. Saying thank you is simply a matter of good manners. Giving thanks, however, is something more. Giving thanks is a way of life that is lived gratefully. One person shared the following line with me: what if you woke up today and you only had those things you thanked God for yesterday? I rarely pause and say “Thank you God for good health.” I know many people who are in poor health and say regretfully they did not realize how precious good health was until they no longer have it. While I do thank God for my family, I doubt I share that gratitude often enough with God.
Maybe I do not say thanks that often because over time I have come to expect these things in my life: a hot cup of coffee in the morning; energy to get out of bed; my family safe and sound; friends I can call on; a roof over my head and a pantry full of food; a loving church just waiting on me. I suspect that deep down I think that I deserve all of this and therefore I am entitled. The trouble is – and I know you know this – when I feel entitled to something, I really have no room for gratitude.
The people of God in ancient times were being led to a land that had been promised to them. Along with the promise comes a glad exhortation: You shall eat your fill and bless the LORD your God for the good land that he has given you. Take care that you do not forget the LORD your God…(Deuteronomy 8:10-11)
And so we, the people of God, here in the house of God, as we take an inventory of our lives, as we reflect over our past; as we see our loved ones come and go; we too may overhear ourselves saying: “It’s been a good day hasn’t it? We’ve got a lot to be thankful for.” And so we do. May this Thanksgiving be a time that you remember not only what God has done for you, but what God continues to do each day. By doing so, we may bless the LORD our God. That is Thanksgiving.
Grateful for you,
“If you must look back, do so forgivingly. If you must look forward, do so prayerfully. However, the wisest thing you can do is be present in the present…gratefully.” (Maya Angelou)