Every year, I get to write a number of pastoral letters to the folks connected to the parish. I try not to do the “give us your money” in the letter itself, but we do always include an offering envelope. Rather, I try to write these letters as something inspirational and original. And, staring at that blank page, I have to admit (rather quickly) that when it comes to Thanksgiving letters, originality is hard to come by! So instead I reflect on the most basic theme at this time of year: giving thanks.
It seems such a simple concept, yet it also seems to be something that we, as normal humans, aren’t always too good at doing. Even our prayers tend to focus more on what we need and want, rather than giving thanks. I wonder if perhaps this focus keeps us always wanting more; without giving thanks, we are missing the peace of God, which is promised to us in Paul’s letter to the Philippians.
“Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” ~Philippians 4:6-7
Perhaps that is the invitation for us all this Thanksgiving weekend, between raking leaves and preparing food and trying to get that long autumnal to-do list done. Perhaps our invitation is to spend some time in prayerful reflection of all the things that we can be thankful for.
For myself, some of the things I am most grateful for include a roof over head and food in the pantry, a walk in the sunshine with my dogs, a conversation with a friend full of laughter; all for obvious reasons. Less obviously: I am thankful for the frustrations that offer me a chance to develop patience, for the challenges that encourage personal growth, and most of all, for the moments where my heart is open and my mind is quiet enough that I can see the glimpses of grace that God is sending into my life.
It is in these moments that I am intentionally stopping to give thanks to God, to acknowledge that I have all that I need, most of what I want, and an abundant share in the promised peace of God – all of which exceeds well beyond anything I can ask or imagine.
May your Thanksgiving be a time of giving thanks, of delighting in love, of walking in peace.