RELIGION: Giving thanks

For some people, gratitude seems to come easy. These people say “please” and “thank you” on a daily basis, and genuinely mean it. The gratitude of having one more day on the planet seems to run through their veins in every moment.

For others, gratitude is hard fought. It takes these people ages to acknowledge there are good things in the world and in their life to give thanks for. Their “thanks” comes from their lips begrudgingly.

Most of the rest of the population falls into the middle ground. We are polite, but not to a fault. We know that good things happen in our lives and around us. We know when someone has gone out of their way to do something to make our life easier and we write old fashioned “Thank You” cards. (A lost art for some). We are genuine in our thanks but it takes some effort to remember to do it.

When it comes to November, nearly all of us take some time out to recognize and give thanks in some way.

This year Thanksgiving will look just the same and completely different than any other year. On any given year some of our tables will have empty chairs where a loved one once sat but are no longer with us. On any given year there is someone who can’t make the gathering — someone who was invited, but could not make the trip, has to work, or is unable to be near. On any given year there is some familial dish, a special occasion Thanksgiving food item that just didn’t come out quite right … and there may be laughter or tears. There may be high fives and smiles. There may be lots of noise and a football game with a favored team and rival playing.

But this year, unlike years before, some of our tables will be smaller, have less invited guests, and for some who are very cautious, the tables may just be set for one.

There is no “right” way to celebrate Thanksgiving — except to be thankful for something, someone or simply the breath in our lungs.

When I look at the good news of Jesus Christ, I remember that it was good news for the whole world, not just a select few who believed enough, or who asked for forgiveness enough, or who claimed Jesus as their Lord and Savior. No, the good news is for all. I heard some years ago a phrase that has stuck with me as I read the gospels over and over again, and found it to be true: “If it’s not good news for all people, then it’s not good news.”

So when it comes to Thanksgiving, I am reminded of the good news of Christ, for all people. There is no having to believe ‘enough’, or ‘say the right prayer’ or… fill in the blank. So, on this Thanksgiving, I will give thanks for the text we read in the weeks to come as we enter the season of Advent before Christmas — the waiting time.

“I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, which is the Messiah, the Lord,” (Luke 2: 10b-1).

May we give thanks for the breath in our lungs, the ability to celebrate this day, no matter what it may look like or feel like whether that be strange of familiar. May we give thanks for good news and good news. Some of us give thanks to our creator, our savior, our sustainer — God. Some of us give thanks to one another — those near and dear to us. Some of us give thanks to the universe for our simple existence. However, you decide to give thanks, I pray it is genuine. May it be so for all of us.

Rev. Lisa Petty is pastor of First United Methodist Church in Montrose.

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