Happy Giving Thanks day!
The dictionary defines thanksgiving as “the act of giving thanks – especially to God.” But, mention the word “thanksgiving” in conversation and visions of turkeys, pilgrims, and pumpkin pies spring to mind. For some people, thanksgiving is not an act. It’s a meal, a day, an event. When that first letter in the word thanksgiving is capitalized, folks can miss the real action. They replace the act of giving thanks with plates piled with food, hours of football on the flatscreen, and hunting Black Friday’s doorbusters.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love Thanksgiving Day. Each year, the day offers me a home filled with warm, wonderful smells of dinner and pie. The parade is on the television with football to follow. And, best of all, family gathers together and joy and laughter punctuates the conversation.
And we give thanks. We attend the worship service at church – not just because I’m the priest and Thanksgiving is a Holy Day in the Episcopal Church – but to thank the Lord for the incredible blessings we receive. And we even thank the Lord for our challenges.
In November of 1648, German pastor Martin Rinkart understood this. The Thirty Years’ War had devastated Saxony. In just one year, the good pastor had to bury 5000 parishioners – an average of 15 every day. And now, trumpets sounding in the street, that Rinkart first thought were soldiers attacking, instead announced the war’s end. Peace had finally come at long last.
Rinkart thanked God and immediately sat at his desk and penned the words to one of our most cherished Thanksgiving hymns. “Now thank we all our God, With heart, and hands, and voices, Who wondrous things hath done, In Whom His world rejoices!”
This Thanksgiving Day, this Giving Thanks day, don’t miss it. Enjoy the turkey. Hug the family. Cheer for the team. But most of all, give thanks to God for all the blessings and all the challenges in life. Give thanks to God with heart, and hands, and voices, Who wondrous things hath done, in Whom His world rejoices!