Families will come together and sit down to bountiful feasts! Tables filled with turkey with all the trimmings, some rice and peas, arroz con pollo, some will have roast pork and others jerk pork, callaloo or collard greens, macaroni and cheese, with sweet candied yams! And don’t forget the apple cider, the pecan pie and pumpkin pie. We will indulge ourselves - those of us who can - with the bounties and fruit of the harvest all in the posture celebrate Thanksgiving!
This is a season when we will even remember those less fortunate than ourselves. We will hold dinners at shelters and soup kitchens and we will have given a little extra to the food banks. And we will be satisfied.
The word of God has declared this is a good thing, because it is right that we should feast, but there is a growing trend to forget that we are also to thank God for what He has given us; that it is right to celebrate our God, and to share the fruit of our labor, and the blessings of the earth and sea, it's good to express appreciation and to rejoice over the goodness of God.
In the book of Deuteronomy we find a declaration or a pronouncement that after all the trials and tribulation, after all the hardships and subjugation that the people of Israel had experienced, the Lord was going to bring them out! Hallelujah! The Lord speaks to us by application of His wonderful promises, you may have experienced some trials, you may be dealing with tribulations even now, but we serve a faithful God who can bring you out. Isaiah declares in the 43rd chapter that when the people of God were to face floods they would not be drowned, when we walk through the fire we would not be burned, because God is with us! And for that we ought to say, “Thank you God!” If we were to take a closer look at the contemporary approach to this marvelous privilege, however, we would notice a steady decline, and a falling away from the commands given to through scripture.
If you were to turn on the TV today, you would see that the world sees Thanksgiving through a different set of lenses. For much of the popular culture, Thanksgiving is a foregone conclusion (America is "over it" before it even begins). It has become a parade of pageantry and idolatry. Sponsored by big business, it has become a precursor to what many call Black Friday. Thus it has been diminished to loading up on proteins and carbs for the big race; for the marathon at the malls. Under the guise of getting the best deals and bargains of the year, people amass more trinkets and idols to feed their flesh and their passions to sear. And in doing so we push away the God we say we hold dear – the one we want near.
But the Word of God declares in Romans the 12th chapter that “we are not to be conformed to the world, but we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds that we may be able to prove what is that good, and acceptable and perfect will of God.” So God is calling us to a higher place of praise, a Kingdom mind set, where our overall attitude and approach to life and to what God has done for us, and continues doing for us.
God calls us not only to a day of thanksgiving, God has called his people, as we have read in the book of Deuteronomy - from the time of Moses, to a life of thanksgiving. And that is what we will discuss for a few more moments – Thanks Living.
The difference between celebrating Thanksgiving Day and Thanks Living might seem like a short matter of semantics, but we are called to live a life of gratitude. Thanksgiving Day is a temporal event. Thanks living is a way of life. Thanks living is worship – when we acknowledge God in gratitude just for who God is! Thanks living is praise when I continually bless and thank God for all HE’S done for me, my family, my community, our world!
Now don’t get me wrong, I realize that if we didn’t have Thanks Giving Day, some of us would never gather together with our families and friends! Some of us would never extend a helping hand to another if God had not set aside a “time to pluck up what was planted.” Thanks Living is Love! But when we allow short tempers and unforgiveness to separate us from one another we are also separated from God, because we are not operating in the essence of the One whom we say we serve – that is God, who is Love! John asked the question, “How can you say you love God, who you can’t see, when you don’t love your brother? By this we know Love, because Jesus – who is Love, laid down his life for us! Saints thanks living is being postured in that same love to lay down our lives for others in need.
We allow the hustle and the bustle of life to keep us apart from one another in spite of all our technological advances. We’re still too busy to text someone and say I love you, email somebody and say I miss you. Tweet someone on Twitter and say, “Jesus loves you and so do I”, much less just call somebody and leave a message… that says, “I’m so grateful to God for you. You have meant so much to me in my life… call me when you can. I love you!”
God blesses us everyday! How can I say thank you once a year! The marvelous part of it all is that God is so awesome we have can’t use the same excuses NOT to talk to God! He’s omniscient - so God knows what’s on your mind, even before you say it. He knows if you don’t even want to talk to him! He’s omnipresent so you can never say, “I tried to call you, but you weren’t home!” God is everywhere! He’s omnipotent so you can never say, “I tried to send you a message, but you weren’t able…” He’s got all power in His hands! And God is able! Hallelujah!
Giving thanks is important.
When we give thanks as a community, as a family, we are reminded of all the good things and all the good people embedded with good and perfect gifts from the Lord. In fact if we just take a moment to inhale the gift of fellowship, and witness the very imprint that has been made on our lives by those around us we can’t help, but acknowledge that every good and perfect gift comes from the Lord!
We remember that we have been blessed, we remember that there is a greater good than ourselves - if only for a moment or a day. Thanks Living is living a life of praise to our God, worship of our God, of Love and fellowship through the grace of our God. We begin to "live thanks" when we open our lives up to God and give God the first place.
As we do this - as we humble ourselves before God and acknowledge that he is the source of every good and perfect thing, our awareness of our blessings increases, our joy is made full, and we find ourselves in an attitude of gratitude -state of experiencing God’s grace.
Thanks living is the divine enablement of the Holy Spirit to go forth into the world to fulfill our calling as the people of God, the Body of Christ, blessed to be a blessing to others, and living in thanks for the life and provision we have received.
As you give thanks this Thanksgiving Day, remember your calling to be joyful always, to pray continually, and to give thanks in all circumstances. As you engage this practice may you, as St. Francis of Assisi prays, “hear God more clearly, be drawn to him more nearly, and love God more dearly.”
Through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen
Not just a holiday. It's a lifestyle. Have a blessed Thanks Living!
"In the power of the Holy Spirit, we now go forth into the world to fulfill our calling as the people of God, the Body of Christ blessed to be a blessing, and living in thanks for the life we have received."