When the Pilgrims celebrated a harvest festival in 1621, fifty-eight of the original one hundred and two remained alive after surviving that first dreadful winter. Native Americans had come to their rescue earlier that year, helping them grow crops to harvest. A second ship arrived from England, bringing recruits and supplies they desperately needed. That Thanksgiving most likely occurred in October and the colonists spent the day in worship and praise, giving thanks.
Thankfulness is not something we regularly practice. Many of us, including myself, often take our blessings for granted. The Bible says, in I Thessalonians 5:8: “In every thing give thanks. . .” Do we?
This morning I rose, showered, made a pot of coffee, and fixed breakfast. The activity was so routine, I gave it little thought. But I remembered the victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Marie, many of whom still wait for hot water, their next meal, and a permanent residence. The memory made me thankful for the commonplace.
Last night we celebrated my husband’s birthday at a local eatery, returned to our neighborhood, and finished with pie. So normal. Yet I am reminded of the 2800 dwellings in Santa Rosa, California, where residents were wakened by a siren and evacuated, urged to flee the wildfires threatening their neighborhoods. When they returned, all that remained were the chimneys, ashes, and memories. They won’t celebrate Thanksgiving at home this year. I will. Thank you for the blessing.
Gathered around family tables this week will be relatives who may or may not be appreciated—a son who has disappointed his mother, a daughter who has strayed. But for those who lost loved ones in the Nevada shooting, on the New York bike path, or in the Florida night club, the empty chair at their table represents a family member with whom they would give everything they have to spend one more minute—to tell them they are loved, forgiven, missed. Take time to appreciate those at your Thanksgiving table. Give thanks they are part of your life. In the blink of an eye, something or someone you hold dear, can be gone forever.
The rest of I Thessalonians 5:8: “. . .for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” We fulfill God’s prompting when we are thankful.