Thanksgiving: Day or Way?

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day.  This holiday comes with a script most of us follow almost religiously.  Pilgrim images, turkeys, family dinners, turkeys, football, pumpkin pie, turkeys, naps, turkeys, mashed potatoes, turkeys, green beans, stuffing, dressing, turkeys, parades, turkeys, gravy, sometimes a rebellious ham or some other strange meat disrupts the protocol, travel, no school, Black Friday assault strategy meetings, turkeys, and, of course, turkeys.  We all love this holiday…almost as much as the fine folks at Butterball, Amazon, and the Mall of America.
However the holiday is very rich in meaning.  In fact, it is so rich in meaning, it has the uncanny ability to perform heart surgery on all of us.  By that I simply mean the very idea of a day of Thanksgiving demands that we answer the question on whether or not we are thankful people.  Answering it quickly is easy…answering it truthfully might be a different story.  Perhaps tomorrow, gathered around the dinner table, we might actually be thankful…for the day.  But what happens after tomorrow?
Christianity does not call for a day of gratitude, but a lifetime of it.  Luke 17:11-19 records the memorable story of Jesus healing 10 lepers, of which only 1 returned to say “thank you”…a Samaritan no less.  While I am always moved by the Samaritan, I’m always humbled by the 9 who failed to give thanks…knowing full well that I’ve done the same thing many times.  I ask, I get, and then I run off…until it’s time to ask again.  Sound familiar?
As Christian people, the salvation God has granted us opens our eyes to see His hand in everything.  The question is not “should we be grateful?” but rather “how could we not?”  Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  Obviously Paul saw thanksgiving as a life-long response to the goodness of God.
But it goes without saying, we certainly have our struggles in this.  As Americans, we want, want, and want.  The new becomes old in a hurry.  Without much effort, we can convince ourselves of how bad we have it and how much we deserve to have more.  Sounds ugly, doesn’t it?   Older commentary writers went out of their way to highlight this truth.  Albert Barnes wrote, “Ingratitude has always been regarded as the one of the worst of crimes.”  Matthew Henry offered, “Call a man ungrateful, and you can call him by no worse name.”  Ouch!  What if the obverse of these statements were also true?  Barnes’ quote would read something like, “Gratitude has always been regarded as one of humanity’s highest attributes.”  Matthew Henry’s might then read, “Call a man grateful, and you can call him by no better name.”  Makes ya think, doesn’t it?
In closing, let me encourage you to make much of tomorrow.  Enjoy the time with your family.  Eat the food and go back for seconds and thirds.  Watch football, pitch horseshoes, play corn-hole, play X-Box and PlayStation, take a nap, and then repeat…make the most of it.  Give thanks and be thankful for every second of it.  Comfort each other if you’re missing loved ones.  Go the extra mile in being grateful Thursday.  But may God help us to move past observing Thanksgiving as a DAY…and may it become a WAY of life which honors the Lord, adheres to Scripture, and benefits all.  Surely, we all have MUCH to be thankful for.  Happy Thanksgiving y’all!  Stay Classy Monticello!  🙂

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