The subversive message of Thanksgiving
You may be reading this while the turkey is cooking. Or while it’s digesting. Or maybe while the fire department is taking care of the turkey fryer situation on your deck. But regardless of how or when you celebrate Thanksgiving, there’s a subversive element of this holiday that often goes unnoticed.
For many Thanksgiving celebrations there’s time set aside to share exactly WHAT it is we’re thankful for. Family, food, friends, good health, surviving another year, laughter, football, etc. If you don’t answer the question, “What are you thankful for” you risk being labeled a selfish, ungrateful clod. Maybe you wouldn’t even get invited back next year.
But in the cornucopia of things for which we ARE grateful, where are we to direct our gratitude? Is it just to good luck, or good genes? That hardly seems a fitting recipient for our heart-felt gratitude. Is it to the farmers who raised all the delicious food, because they couldn’t succeed without fertile soil, abundant rain, energy from the sun, etc. For many, including myself, our real gratitude is directed at the giver of all good gifts, our Creator God.
Here’s where it gets subversive. In an increasingly secular and non-religious society, there’s still a desire, almost a need to be grateful. And while certain holiday greetings have fallen out of favor lest they come across as too religious, Thanksgiving stands out like a beacon pointing beyond ourselves. Those who may not darken the door of a church or synagogue or mosque will no doubt declare their gratitude on this festive holiday. And in so doing, they’re almost unwittingly pointing to the giver of all good gifts.
Does God acknowledge those gestures of gratitude, even if the address on the envelope is left blank? I believe he does. And I believe that he can work in the hearts and minds of anyone who will start with gratitude. Because ultimately, everything we have, and everything we see, and everything we long for comes from our heavenly Father.
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18
This year, I’m thankful for all those who are giving thanks, even if they’re not sure whom they’re thanking. Here’s to another subversive campaign of gratitude!