Thanksgiving Day is a wonderful secular holiday in America, and absolutely worthy of celebration. We are fortunate to have it, but we are unfortunate that we now live in a time when, once Halloween ends, Christmas begins (at least in the marketplace). To get shoppers in the mood (and make more profits, I guess), many businesses begin selling Christmas items and start playing background “holiday” music on November 1st! “Black Friday,” that day that has always been a veritable orgy of shopping, has slowly creeped beyond itself, and has now taken over the entire week, spanning from the Monday before Thanksgiving, to the Wednesday after. Time to spend with family has all but vanished for those who work in the retail industry, with all the demands of extended shopping hours and significantly higher customer volume. We seem to be turning Thanksgiving, a holiday for celebrating our blessings, into a holiday that’s becoming all about greed and lust for the latest and greatest material things and the accumulation of whatever the advertisers can push on us.
Let’s take back Thanksgiving. On behalf of the Continental Congress of 1777, Samuel Adams wrote, “That at one Time and with one Voice, the good People may express the grateful Feelings of their Hearts, and consecrate themselves to the Service of their Divine Benefactor; and that, together with their sincere Acknowledgments and Offerings, they may join the penitent Confession of their manifold Sins, whereby they had forfeited every Favor; and their humble and earnest Supplication that it may please God through the Merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of Remembrance… and to prosper the Means of Religion, for the promotion and enlargement of that Kingdom, which consisteth “in Righteousness, Peace and Joy in the Holy Ghost.” (text from the “Frist National Proclamation of Thanksgiving, 1777) Twelve years later, President George Washington would make the First Presidential Declaration of Thanksgiving, also giving thanks to and acknowledging God for the many blessings received by his people. Thanksigivng was about acknowledging our sinfulness, seeking forgiveness, consecrating oneself to service, and being thankful to God for our countless blessings.
Let us take time to reflect on the incredible and innumerable blessings we have received from God. Let us reflect on those blessings in others, where God becomes manifestly present in our relationships founded in love. Father, give me a grateful heart. Make me sensitive to all I have received, the countless blessings of your love. Forgive me of my sins and shortcomings, and renew my life in you. Thank you for giving me, me, and may my life become a blessing for others. Amen.