Fall has come. Along with fall, we begin to think of cooler weather, perhaps snow and other things, and along comes Thanksgiving. What does thanksgiving mean to you and your family? Maybe we should begin with a definition of Thanksgiving:
1. The expression of gratitude, especially to God.
2. An annual national holiday marked by religious observances and a traditional meal including turkey. The holiday commemorates a harvest festival celebrated by the Pilgrims in 1621 and is held in the US on the fourth Thursday in November.
Maybe you are reminded of songs learned long ago, like “Over the River and Through the Woods” and others. Times change, attitudes change, and priorities can become indifferent.
In 1978, a young seminary graduate named Henry Smith struggled to find work and to come to terms with a degenerative eye condition that would eventually leave him legally blind. Despite the hardships, Henry found hope in 2 Corinthians 8:9 and penned “Give Thanks,” a beloved song of our time: “…and now let the weak say, ‘I am strong’; let the poor say, ‘I am rich’ because of what the Lord has done.”
Years later, a young worship leader named Don Moen recorded Henry’s song, helping to carry it around the world. Today, you can hum “Give Thanks” at almost any church in the world, no matter the country or the language, and someone will recognize this simple song of thanksgiving and trust.
What will your Thanksgiving look like this year?
My personal prayer for you is that the words of “Give Thanks, the definition of thanksgiving, and each of us might pray for the community and beyond:
“God who loves us, who deserves our gratitude for so much that is good, We offer our prayers of thanksgiving to you: For the beauty of the earth — bright orange leaves mixed with green, a gentle rain, a spider’s delicate web. For friends, for family, even acquaintances who offer us kindness, who bring us laughter, who hold us to a higher standard. Lord of all that is good and nourishing to our well-being, we give you thanks. How we must try your patience with our pettiness! All of life is a wonder. The very breath we take, the ability to rouse ourselves each new day, a single blade of grass, a tiny distant star whose size boggles our minds. We take our lives for granted — as if it were our right and not our gift. We take our days, our loves and our passions for granted — as if tomorrow will verify their importance and our present moments have other things to occupy us. Gracious God, who lavishes goodness upon us even in some of our darkest moments, help us to see your goodness, remind us to have grateful hearts, grant us receptive minds, and ever-gracious ways of living in harmony with each other.In our gratitude, make us instruments of your peace. Amen.”