Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Giving Thanks

If we were at home right now, we'd be participating in our church's annual Thanksgiving Praise Service. It's a special time dedicated to sharing with each other the specific ways the Lord has blessed us this year. I think this is the first one I've missed in 25 years. It's one of my favorite events of the year. I love hearing firsthand accounts of God's goodness. To me, this service is what Thanksgiving is really all about.

Every year around the holidays, we hear people remind us to remember the real meaning of Christmas. We're encouraged to look past the gifts and decorations and busyness of family gatherings and focus instead on the birth of Christ. I think that the same principle should apply to Thanksgiving as well. Sadly, on a holiday set aside specifically to count our blessings, most people are more concerned with honoring family traditions, creating and eating delicious food, spending time with friends and family, and watching football. None of those things are wrong, and can all be perfectly fine ways to celebrate the holiday. However, if that is all this day means, then you are missing the point.

Just as giving gifts at Christmas time is a way of remembering that God gave us the perfect Gift in Jesus Christ, so should our actions on Thanksgiving reflect a heart of gratitude. Spend time with your family. Enjoy a beautifully roasted turkey and Grandma's pumpkin pie. But more importantly, set aside time to thank the Lord for the blessings in your life. If this year, you were, for some reason, unable to be with friends or family, eat a typical Thanksgiving meal, or play a game of football in the backyard, you should still be content to celebrate Thanksgiving. Because it truly is simply a time to "give thanks." Of course, more than likely the Lord has blessed you with people you care about and you will be able to appreciate the well-loved traditions of the day.

This is our annual Thanksgiving Picture from a couple years ago (not to be confused with our annual Cousin Picture, which is taken on Christmas Day). These are my sisters, my cousins, and my brothers-in-law. And although we can't be with them this year, I am so incredibly thankful for each one of them!

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