The Thanksgiving holiday season is upon us again! It could not have come at a better time. In a frenzied, fast-paced, and divided society where there are many things to question, doubt, interrogate and investigate, it is beneficial to sometimes slow down, pause, and give thanks.
The Thanksgiving season helps us in this regard. It helps us to reflect, contemplate, and celebrate what’s important in life.
As I reflected on Thanksgiving this year, I thought about the many things I sometimes take for granted, such as faith, family, friends, co-workers, country, citizenship, culture, county, and city. What about you? Thanksgiving has a way of grounding us and reminding us of what really matters.
Displaying gratitude for things that matter is a spiritual principle. It is a sacred practice. It is a life-giving and life-receiving action. Life is a gift from the Creator, who faithfully sustains us and graciously guides us through the difficulties and serendipities of life. Hence, Thanksgiving is a time to contemplate the sovereign reign of God over the circumstances of life and the hidden treasures found in rough places and harsh circumstances.
As we celebrate Thanksgiving this year, let us not forget to celebrate the most incredible gift available to all humanity – salvation through Jesus Christ. The writer of I Thessalonians 5:16-19 reminds us to “rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (NIV). The phrase “give thanks” (eucharisteo) means to be grateful or to express gratitude.
The general message of Jesus and the Bible is salvation. Interestingly, the Latin root of our English word “salvation” means “healthy” and “wholeness.” During this Thanksgiving season, let us celebrate a Savior who is concerned about our “whole health,” spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally, economically, and communally.
Peter Berger, a respected sociologist, reminds us of the “signals of transcendence” where something or someone beyond us beckons us to be grateful. I believe that someone is the Creator of this universe. God beckons us to display our thankfulness by celebrating the triune God in the everyday affairs of life. Hence, Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate the bountiful blessings we enjoy every day and the benevolent Creator who makes it all possible.
While many of us are thankful for faith, family, friends, careers, businesses, work, health, food, and shelter, let us be aware of and attentive to those who do not share the same experiences or enjoy the same gifts. As we celebrate Thanksgiving this year, let us not forget that there is much suffering in our world. Injustices and inequities abound. Grief, despair, and hopelessness is the experience of many.
I pray that Thanksgiving this year leads us to thanks-living, wherewith gracious hearts and opened hands, we become attentive to the suffering around us and do our part to alleviate it. With Thanksgiving in our hearts, I pray that we become courageous advocates for the least, the last, and the left-out among us. During this Thanksgiving season, let us “rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15, NIV). Let us be grateful for the faithfulness of God at work in us, around us, and through us. It’s Thanksgiving season! SLOW DOWN…PAUSE…AND GIVE THANKS!
Dr. Derrick L. Jackson is the senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Gallatin (Winchester Street).