Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thanks and Giving

What a wonderful holiday! Of all the great festivals of the year, Thanksgiving is the most distinctly American...not the notion of giving thanks, of course, but the turkey, the pilgrims and the Native Americans, the Macy's parade, the football...the way we celebrate Thanksgiving is very American; it's a great holiday!

But there is an angle to Thanksgiving which we sometimes forget. We who call ourselves Christians are fairly good at giving thanks...we pray the right prayers, sing the right songs, and speak the right words.

But, as the name implies, if we are truly thankful to Almighty God for all he has done for us, for what he continues to do for us, and for what he promises to do for us in the future, then we must allow our thanks to give way to giving.

Jesus said, "When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous." (Luke 14:12-14, NRSV)

As we gather with family and friends to enjoy the feast, the fellowship, and the football, have we made sure that our poor neighbors have been invited? Are they sufficiently cared for? Have they enough for their daily needs? Thanksgiving isn't really about the turkey and the football; it's about the poor, and having a blessed opportunity to serve these beloved children of God.

If we fail to remember this, then we are simply playing a game with Thanksgiving. We need to remind ourselves of the mission statement Jesus claimed for himself, and make it our own...

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
(Luke 4:18-19, NRSV)

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