Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving 2011

It has arrived. Arguably my most favorite holiday of the year. A day to pause and give thanks for all that we have--most of which we don't really deserve.

I do enjoy the football and the food. I enjoy the family gathering around a large table to enjoy each other is a somewhat structured kind of way--but as it is a holiday, it is what we expect to do on this day. And that makes it even better.

We know that there will be noise and chaos and cooking going on.

But most importantly, there will be interaction between people--some of whom we don't see often enough. Thanksgiving is a holiday were we gather together with family and friends to celebrate. Some people travel hours or days to be together. Others travel just across town--but no matter, we are together.

The practice of giving thanks as a nation or community is a long one. Although we draw our current tradition from the 1621 Plymouth Pilgrims, Thanksgiving is a very personal holiday that families modify as they need.

And there is so much to give thanks for--even during these difficult times. I know there is a lot of pain for many people on this holiday--lost health, jobs, family; but there reasons to give thanks and take time to focus on the blessings despite the pain. Most of my blessings are contained in the people I will be sitting around the table with. And yes, I will be sad about those not here, but I am thankful for them, too.

The Apostle Paul reminds us to be “always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20), and to “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

I will enjoy the parades on TV, the football games, and the feasting. But most of all I will enjoy family and friends.

The blessing of Thanksgiving is the ability to pause and step beyond my daily life to see all of the blessings that have been given to me and to take a moment, either in public or private, to thank God for the magnificnent way he has provided for me.

I thought I was done writing--but then I ran across the second verse of the great Hymn of Thanksgiving, Now Thank We All Our God by Martin Rinckart.

O may this bounteous God
through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts
and blessed peace to cheer us;
And keep us still in grace,
and guide us when perplexed;
And free us from all ills,
in this world and the next.

-- Bob Doan Elkridge, MD
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