It is sad to me that the traditions and celebrations of Thanksgiving have been folded into the Christmas holiday and has lost its uniqueness in many aspects. We are all guilty. Each year I debate over whether or not to have the Christmas tree up and the house decorated in time for the Thanksgiving gathering. We use the occasion to discuss the details of Christmas, who’s hosting, who’s buying gifts for who, what the menu should be, etc. Don’t get me wrong-I absolutely LOVE Christmas and all it means to me, and am an advocate of making Christmas last all year. But the beauty of Christmas begins with an appreciation and an understanding of the incarnation of Christ, and that epiphany should be ushered in with great Thanksgiving and rejoicing rather than Black Thursday shopping deals.
Perhaps the older I get the more reflective I become. Or maybe it’s a maturity of faith that sheds a greater light on just how blessed we are as a people and as a church, that with all our faults we can be referred to as Children of God. In the midst of all our struggles, in view of all our differences, in spite of the divisions and barriers of our own making, we still have more to be grateful for than we could ever express in the short time allotted us here on earth. This is the week we look back on where we’ve been, what we’ve endured and what we are left with, and raise our voices to say Thanks God. So in the spirit of the day, I have a list of my own. I trust you do as well.
*I don’t have perfect health-I’m out of shape and maybe just a little overweight, yet God has granted my fifty three years of a good life.
*I experienced a painful divorce long ago but God blessed me with an angel that I’ve been with now for eighteen years.
*Our kids aren’t perfect-they are all alive and doing well and a blessing to our family.
*Our grand kids are perfect! They can’t comprehend how precious they and their love is to us.
*I lost a business this year-painful, but ended up in a perfect situation orchestrated by God alone.
*Our house needs repair and updating but our home is strong and blessed and welcoming.
*We have to drive twenty miles to and from work. In twenty two years in Las Vegas we’ve never been involved in any serious accidents.
*Our church isn’t perfect because we attend there. But we found a home where we can mature and be a blessing as we grow up in our faith and salvation.
*Our country is not what it used to be but we are still free to disagree, free to pursue happiness, free to worship as we please, free to peacefully demonstrate and free to move about in relative safety.
*I’m not wealthy by the world’s standards, but I couldn’t ask for anything more than I have. What price can a man give in exchange for his soul?
I love Psalm 103 taken from the Message Bible. It drives home the point, lest we forget, of just how truly blessed we are by God.
O my soul, bless God.
From head to toe, I’ll bless his holy name!
O my soul, bless God,
don’t forget a single blessing!
He forgives your sins—every one.
He heals your diseases—every one.
He redeems you from hell—saves your life!
He crowns you with love and mercy—a paradise crown.
He wraps you in goodness—beauty eternal.
He renews your youth—you’re always young in his presence.
As high as heaven is over the earth,
so strong is his love to those who fear him.
And as far as sunrise is from sunset,
he has separated us from our sins.
As parents feel for their children,
God feels for those who fear him.
What can anyone add to that? What more can we ask for in order to be grateful-we already have it all!
There is just one more thing I’m grateful for this year. Since I was a young kid in school I’ve always loved to write. Now through the technology of social media I am a blogger, writing each week about my experiences as a man striving, sometimes unsuccessfully, to live the Christian faith. The greatest praise one can receive is for another to want to hear what you have to say. I am but one of countless millions of internet bloggers contributing to the ever growing blogosphere each week. If five of you wanted to follow me and my posts, I’d be truly blessed and would feel like I was making a positive contribution to your state. However I have a few more than five. To have your posts read by those in countries like the UK and Italy and the Netherlands is humbling beyond words. I am thankful for each of you who have chosen to follow papaswords.com since its onset, and for those who have shared the posts and offered comments and critique. My prayer is that you find commonality in our struggles, our doubts, our fears and our victories as we live out our faith in a world unfriendly and sometimes even hostile toward the Gospel. You are among my greatest blessings-a heartfelt Thank You. May God bless you and your family with joy, laughter, memories and a revelation of these and all thy blessings!