Tomorrow is the day we give thanks—as though we don’t have to give thanks any other day. Tomorrow, our entire nation gathers with family and friends to feast and fellowship—except for those who do not have jobs, who are living on the streets, who have no family, or are otherwise struggling with personal issues they cannot shake so no one really wants to be around them. Tomorrow, we celebrate the amazing voyage of the pious Pilgrims who left the safety of their mother land in order to live in religious and political freedom—that is, until they forced their way of life on others who came, and even claimed some of them witches when these others would not conform to the lifestyle and religious practices of the majority so they drowned them, stretched them, and did all sorts of other horrid things in the name of “religious freedom” and Christ. Yes, tomorrow we have much for which to give thanks.
I have much for which to give thanks: an amazing life-partner who puts up with me, loves me, and even encourages me; two stubbornly smart kids who always surprise me with their insights; a loving extended family that I cherish; a beautiful home that keeps us safe and warm; a good job (and another one waiting for me in Tempe, Arizona come February), which is a truly cherished thing these days with unemployment still exceeding 10% in most places; the opportunity to live in a country where differing opinions have the same right to be shared openly and unapologetically (though we could do so with at least a little more grace and mutual forbearance); and I’m sure a thousand other things that would be impossible to list here.
But, more than anything, I am thankful for the grace that God offers me to discover and grow deeper in my relationship with the Creator of the universe. Though the Christian faith is more often perceived as a race to avoid the fires of hell by trying our hardest to get into heaven (an idea expanded further by Marcus Borg in his new book, Speaking Christian: Why Christian Words Have Lost Their Meaning and Power – And How They Can Be Restored), I have come to view my faith journey more as a journey in growing closer to God, trying to understand more about God, God’s activity in me and others, God’s hopes for me and all humanity, and, ultimately, growing in my own sense of connection to this God who hopes.
So, this Thanksgiving weekend, and as we enter yet another liturgical year for the church with the first Sunday of Advent, my prayer for all of us is that we might grow less fearful of God and more intentional in our attempts to live into God and God’s presence in us, around us, and in others (maybe that might help with that “mutual forbearance” thing).
Happy thanksgiving everyone!