Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year. I love everything about it. I love the food, the weather, the family, the food, the football, the food, the fun. I love the pace, which always seems slower and less hurried than Christmas. I love that we stop to say what are thankful for.
We should enjoy these things. And we need to enjoy the one that gave them to us. I want to offer a quick reminder that we need to remember the God that we are thankful to.
We say “I am thankful for __________” a lot, but the more important sentence to complete is this: “I am thankful to __________.” If you scan your twitter feed or facebook feed, I bet you’ll find “I am thankful for __________” repeated over and over, but you will rarely see a mention of who people are thankful to.
A “thank you” does not terminate on itself or vanish into the Autumn breeze. It is not intended to stop with us. A thank you is intended to go somewhere. It has a destination. Our thanks need to be offered to a particular recipient.
Let me illustrate. A letter is mailed from a father to a daughter. A football is passed between quarterback and receiver. A kiss is blown from one lover to another. Each is a great example of something offered and something received.
But each of these becomes meaningless if there is no one to receive that which is offered.
A letter mailed without an address indicated is marked “Return to Sender.” A football with no receiver bounces crookedly in the grass and must be retrieved. Someone walking the city streets blowing kisses to nobody is eventually invited to the psych wing of the local hospital.
If we offer our thanks generically, without intending them for someone specific, they lose their power. Yet far too many of us, maybe even most of us, fail to think about this most important question: To whom are we saying our “thank yous”?
Let’s remember that Thanksgiving is about the one to whom we offer thanks: God.
The bible points out our human tendency to enjoy God’s creation without showing gratitude to our Creator (Romans 1). This is our habitual way of acting in this great world of ours. We become so swept up in its beauty and tastiness and laughter and love that we fail to look beyond them to the Great Giver of All Good Things.
In some way, when we find ourselves continually saying “I’m thankful for ________” without ever saying “I’m thankful to G O D ,” we are repeating the harmful pattern of those who “did not honor him as God or give thanks to him” (Rom 1:21).
The joy of Thanksgiving is in celebrating all of the good that we’ve been given. It is a time when we set aside worry and heartache and achievement and striving to pause and give thanks for our many blessings. We soak turkey in rivers from the gravy boat, stuff ourselves with stuffing, pretend we are interested in an oversized Snoopy bouncing off towers in NYC, sneak an (second) piece of pumpkin pie. We remember that we love our children more than we love the Dallas Cowboys, even when the kids keep running between us and the TV. We make the most of the life we’ve been given. And it is good.
These are days to be remembered.
These are days to be thankful for.
And these are also days to be thankful to.
May we celebrate life to the fullest today,
and may we be “abounding in thanksgiving”
to the one who gives us life to enjoy.