Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.
Or is it?
More accurately stated: tomorrow is the official day of the year that the United States of America sets apart as “Thanksgiving Day.”
Whether or not people actually give thanks on Thanksgiving Day is entirely up to them. That is evidence of the extraordinary freedom of thought and ideas we share as Americans.
For those who choose to give thanks on Thanksgiving Day, to whom we give thanks is evidence of our freedom of religion.
For what we give thanks or fail to give thanks is evidence of our freedom of speech.
The fact that millions of Americans will freely travel across state lines without need to notify the government of their intentions is evidence of the very rare freedom of movement and freedom of assembly we take for granted.
Not all nations have a Thanksgiving Day and rare is the nation whose Thanksgiving Day centers on the knowledge that Thanks is owed to a particular God for the reality of its existence, provision, sustenance and hope.
So, what shall we say today in anticipation of celebrating Thanksgiving Day tomorrow?
It has already been said that “freedom is not free” and we owe a debt of gratitude this Thanksgiving Day to all those who have made personal sacrifices to insure and protect the freedoms we enjoy. So let us remember and let us give thanks.
It has already been said that we are called not to one day of Thanksgiving but to a life of Thanksliving reflecting an attitude of gratitude, moment by moment, throughout our days. So let us acknowledge this truth and so let us live.
It has already been said that we are blessed to be blessing, which highlights both the derivative nature of blessedness and the right object of Thanksgiving: the God who blesses us and by whom we are counted blessed even when there are no circumstantial blessings to count.
Many people will count their circumstantial blessings as a part of celebrating Thanksgiving Day. “I am thankful for…” will start the sentence that will conclude with family, friends, freedom, food, faith, health, wealth, new homes, new jobs, new opportunities, successes, achievements and victories. Rare will be the Thanksgiving Day celebration that focuses on the nature of being blessed, even when the circumstantial blessings are not evident to count.
The witness of the Christian and the Jew on Thanksgiving Day is the testimony of blessedness even in the face of circumstances that run counter to the cultural definitions of blessing.
The Jews are literally called blessed by God in order that they might in turn share the blessing of knowing God with the world. As Christians we are disciples of a man who called “blessed” those who are poor in spirit, the mourners, the meek, those who hunger for God, the merciful, the peacemakers and the persecuted. Does that sound like the list you’re likely to hear around the Thanksgiving Day table tomorrow?
Here’s what matters: when God makes His list of blessings tomorrow, YOU will be counted blessed. What material or circumstantial so-called blessing matters more than that?
- I am blessed in my grief and I am blessed in loss.
- I am blessed in my physical frailties.
- I am blessed in my poverty.
- I am blessed to be in a broken world of broken people in broken relationships because it provides the opportunity to be a reconciling presence in the midst of strife.
- I am blessed to be persecuted or discriminated against or harassed by others for Christ’s name sake.
I am blessed to live in the fullness of the knowledge of blessedness here and forevermore, no matter the circumstantial realities of this life.
Many Christians tomorrow will not have material or circumstantial reasons to give thanks. Consider the persecuted, the displaced, the marginalized, the hungry, the orphaned, the widowed. For some there will be no hand to hold but their own. But even alone and impoverished, we have reason to give thanks because we are called blessed by the God from whom all blessings flow. Conversely, we who have material blessings bear the great responsibility of leveraging them for the blessing of those who, this year, have not.
So, set an extra place at the table tomorrow and pray for the person who sits alone on Thanksgiving Day. How might you live into the calling of your blessedness by making sure that next year they have blessings to count? And, as you count your blessings and name them one by one, focus not on the material and circumstantial but on the reality that when God counts people blessed, in Christ, you make His Thanksgiving Day list.
Happy Thanksgiving, blessed blessing.