Thanksgiving as a Way of Life
It's that time of year again. Across the country preparations are being made for the eating and drinking that will inevitably send many of us into the annual Thanksgiving food coma. Families and friends will gather around tables, and do their best to keep the conversations light hearted and politics-free, with varying success. And as the day draws to a close, we will usher in the mad rush toward Christmas.
The Christian Scripture is full of calls for us to be thankful, not just once a year, but always. This isn't a new idea, and it's a not an idea that belongs exclusively to Christians. I have been encouraged to keep a gratitude journal by people from all sorts of walks of life and religious backgrounds. But it appears, based on how the practice of giving thanks to God is weaved throughout the biblical narrative, that gratitude and thanksgiving is a mark of a Christian life.
So, what might the thanksgiving of a Christian look like that marks it as different? Here are two things to consider:
Our gratitude is aimed at Someone
As Christians we aren't throwing our gratitude out into the ether; we are able to direct our thanks to God, who has is the giver and sustainer of all life. James 1: 7 says, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows". The relationships, the blessings, the events, the experiences, the growth that we have seen throughout the year are authored by God! I don't know about you, but I find it a lot easier to express gratitude when it is directed at someone; it feels more fulfilling and meaningful to be able to look at someone in the eye and express thanks. Christians can come before God, through Jesus, and look him right in the eye and give thanks directly to him.
Our gratitude is boundless
It is easy to be thankful when we have had a good year; when things have gone well for us and our families. But what about when the year has been full of personal, or national, or global pain, unrest, fracturing? What about if Thanksgiving is actually a lonely time, or a time full of tension? How are we supposed to be thankful then? The message of Christianity is one that gives us reason to be thankful even in the midst of our trouble and our pain; in fact Scripture tells us that it is God's design and desire for us to express gratitude in all things: 1 Colossians 5: 18 says, "give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." How can this be possible? As challenging or even life-shattering our situations might be, our circumstances do not undermine or cancel out the truth that in Christ, we have been invited into relationship with God; we have been made right with God; we are deeply and fully loved and accepted by God. This is something that we can cling to in the darkest moments of our lives, and gives us reason to be thankful always.
As this Thanksgiving week progresses, please know that the Pastors of Tapestry Church will be praying for you all, however you are celebrating the holiday. It will be our prayer that you find life and joy in orienting your thanksgiving toward God, whatever circumstance or situation you find yourselves in.
If you are free on Sunday November 25th, please join us at 10.30am for our special Thanksgiving Service at Learning Without Limits. We'll have a time of speaking aloud to each other things we are grateful for, and will be taking a special Thanksgiving offering to be given to Crossroads Emergency Housing Shelter