They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness. Ps 145:7"
LISTEN: Mikeschair, "All I Can Do (Thank You)"
Thanksgiving, we are told, is a time to count our blessings. Some friends on Facebook have posted, for every day in November, what they are grateful for. Other friends in recovery from substance abuse and other illnesses talk about having an "attitude of gratitude" as an essential part of getting well and preventing relapse. Dozens of scriptures tell us to "give thanks in all things" (1 Thess. 5:18) and to "give thanks to the Lord for he is good.." (Ps. 106:1).
Giving thanks is one half of the coin of what it means to be children of God. We must also "do thanks": we must complete our gratitude in how we treat each other, and most of all, how we treat God's most vulnerable children; the poor and hungry, the ill and the lost. The exercise of counting our blessings should stir within us a desire to generosity and to reach out to act and care. Unfortunately, the secular world now would spur us into a spending frenzy, encroaching on the very day of giving thanks. These spending orgies feed on our fear, our vanity and our lust for bargains at all cost. While there is nothing inherently wrong is getting gifts for loved ones, we run a grave risk if we turn the next four weeks into a mad race of "making your list, checking it twice."
The season of Advent, which starts a week from Sunday, would slow us down. Advent is the season of waiting, penitence and good deeds leading up to celebration of the divine gift of Jesus on December 25. We do our prep work on Thanksgiving but blessing God and truly spending time with our family, taking a "sabbath" from the demands of the world.
Instead of making a buying list, Advent invites us to make to create a "list of caring." Taking extra time to pray and meditate on the mystery of the season. Carving family time to light Advent candles and discuss what they mean. Write Christmas cards to loved ones, shut ins, to our troops. Take the time to visit shut ins or neighbors. Go Christmas caroling. Baking cookies and sharing them.
By focusing on caring, little by little we journey to Bethlehem, and prepare our hearts and the hearts of those we touch to receive the true gift of Christmas, the Incarnate Love of God, which no store, not Target, not Wal-Mart, not Macy's, not Best Buy, not any of those store vying for our attention, can give us.
So "Shop" wisely. Start in your home. Chose the best bargain of all: the love of God and the love of those around us. It is priceless. Do not give it up. With this love we can transform gratitude into action -- the actions that renew our spirit, bring healing to others, and creates light to the dark places of the world.
A blessed and safe Thanksgiving to all -- and may preparations for Advent fill our hearts with holy expectation and good deeds in the name of the Lord.
PRAY: "God, show us how to thank you in our service to others. Bless our Advent time and guide us to use it well by drawing us closer to you and to those you have placed in our life to love."