A MESSAGE FROM OUR PASTOR
Although many countries and cultures have some type of ceremony for celebrating their blessings, no one celebrates Thanksgiving quite the way we do in the U.S. And for good reason. Few people on earth have as much for which to be thankful.
We have so much. Newcomers to this country are more conscious of our blessings than many of us are who take them for granted. There are numerous social service agencies and people that give away turkeys for Thanksgiving Day. But Thanksgiving is much, much, more than a national holiday set aside just to celebrate the eating of a big bird.
For most of us, of course, our Thanksgiving holiday lasts longer than one day; theoretically, it can last as long as there are still leftovers in the fridge. “If someone is addicted to eating Thanks-giving leftovers, can he quit cold turkey?” I have nothing against turkey--and all the good stuff that goes along with it--but that’s not our central focus on Thanksgiving Day.
And contrary to all the sales flyers that were stuffed into your paper this past Sunday, Thanksgiving is not about shopping either. Over the next few weeks, advertisers will spend billions of dollars trying to convince us that our holidays won’t be complete unless we buy their product. It is amazing to think about how much money, resources, and effort will be invested into making us feel discontented with our lives. We can easily become cyni-cal about the holidays if we focus too much on the commercial aspects.
Thanksgiving is about far more than eating turkey, watching football or getting a head start on your Christmas shopping. St. Paul knew about Thanksgiving even though he didn’t live in a culture that celebrated it. Paul was continually giving thanks. He had a gratitude attitude. But St. Paul didn’t believe that gratitude was a solitary attribute for the believer. Gratitude is to be linked to caring for others. If God has blessed us, then we should seek to be a blessing to others. God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done. As one psalmist puts it, ‘He throws caution to the winds, giving to the needy in reckless abandon. His right-living, right-giving ways never run out, never wear out.
“This most generous God who gives seed to the farmer that becomes bread for your meals is more than extravagant with you. He gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way, producing with us great praise to God. Carrying out this social relief work involves far more than helping meet the bare needs of poor Christians. It also produces abundant and bountiful thanksgivings to God. This relief offering is a prod to live at your very best, showing your gratitude to God by being openly obedient to the plain meaning of the Message of Christ. You show your gratitude through your generous offerings to your needy brothers and sisters, and really toward everyone. Meanwhile, moved by the extravagance of God in your lives, they’ll respond by praying for you in passionate in-tercession for whatever you need. Thank God for this gift, his gift. No language can praise it enough!”
Find a person who is truly grateful and you will find a person who is generous. Find a person who is gen-erous and you will find a person who is grateful.
This is to say that thanksgiving is a constantly renewable resource. Thanksgiving produces generosity. Generosity brings a sense of abundance into our lives which increases our gratitude. But just as the season of Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate our abundance, the spirit of Thanksgiving creates in us an abundance mind set. When we focus on the positives in our life, we feel thankful. The more thankful we feel, the more joyful we feel. And joy is contagious. It overflows. We want to share it with others.
Who knows the effect your thankfulness and subsequent giving will have on the lives of others? God set up this remarkable system of joy and blessings, gratitude and generosity, giving and receiving and then God backs it up with a lifetime guarantee. Gratitude and generosity feed on one another. Give out of gratitude and your sense of gratitude will continue to grow. It’s an important and time-tested principle of Christian living. No wonder Paul wrote, “Thank God for this gift, his gift.