“The Great Thanksgiving” isn’t the name of some new Charlie Brown special, but instead is something we experience each and every week during our worship together.
During this portion of the service we prepare ourselves to share the meal of bread and wine set before us. We begin with a call and response: “Let us give thanks to the Lord, our God…It is right to give our thanks and praise.” The more I think about these words, the more I realize how rare it is my daily life that I take the time to give thanks (and praise) to God. This isn’t something I’m terribly proud of as a person that has made my vocational call in serving the people of God.
We’re at the point in the year where the changing leaves indicate Thanksgiving is quickly approaching. It seems that even this holiday, intentionally set aside for the “giving of thanks”, is often blurred by the anxieties of travel, family dynamics, and heartburn. I think that the “intentional” part is key.
I struggle to find time to give thanks in a meaningful way for all that God has given me. This doesn’t mean I’m not thankful for things like my family, health, and church, because I truly am, it’s that I often allow for my life to get in the way of setting aside time to give thanks. Isn’t that the so often the case? Life gets in the way of us finding time to connect with the one who gifted us with this life, God.
This year I’ve committed that I am going to “turn over a new leaf” when it comes to this giving thanks thing, and my inspiration came from, where else, Target! A few weeks back I was running a few quick errands and got stopped by the front section filled with the seasonal novelties nobody needs, but I buy. As I was perusing seasonal placards and coffee mugs I came across a “thankfulness tree”. For $3 you get a small, simple wooden tree with matching attachable notched leaves that can be written on with markers. It’s a simple concept, and yet in that moment I was confronted with the true novelty of giving thanks.
Giving thanks doesn’t always have to be “Great”, sometimes it can be small and simple. A note to a co-worker. A tree to write a few words on. A prayer as simple as, “Thank you.” I think this is the grace I need to allow myself. The grace I am thankful we receive in the meal we share. I invite you to join me in giving thanks this holiday season, that you may truly have a grace-filled “Great Thanksgiving”!
Pastor Zak Wagner