November 1, 2010

Thanksgiving or thanks living?

Last night, as I made my way across the driveway and into the house, ghoulish sounds penetrated an otherwise peaceful night. Somewhere in the neighborhood behind us a haunted house was entertaining or terrifying trick-or-treaters as they made the trek around the city in hopes of collecting some treats.

This morning, while watching the news, I was suprised to see Christmas commercials. What? There's hardly been time to take off the costumes or rake away leaves that are still falling and already “Christmas is in the air.” I find it a little disturbing and it appears I am not alone.

There have been grumblings within the ranks of those who participate in social networking. “Isn’t there a holiday between Halloween and Christmas” people are asking? That's a good question and one that I ask as well. Some people are concerned about what they perceive to be a sweeping away of Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is considered by many to be a holiday of "reflective gratitude." Or at least they'd like it to be--myself included. As a result they are using sites like GratitudeLog, Facebook, or Twitter to daily post expressions of thankfulness.

Last year several of my friends spent a few moments, every day in the month of November, sharing their blessings via the internet. Their posts, whether short or long, were quite moving. This year I'm going to attempt to join in. Some of my posts will be long, others short, a few might simply include a photo or video. I don't know yet, because I'm totally new to this.

I do believe that, to some extent, we've lost sight of Thanksgiving. Historically it dates back to 1621 and was a celebration between the colonists of Plymouth and the Wampanoag Indians. Together they shared from the bounty of their crops in celebration of a rich harvest.

We often see grade school plays with a few pilgrims or indians in the month of November but over the years it seems that this holiday has evolved into the three “Ts”: travel, television and turkey. These three T's shared with families and friends now seem to make Thanksgiving meaningful. Yet when we really think about it a day, or even a month, set aside to reflect upon what we are thankful for hardly seems enough.

Suppose instead of Thanksgiving we adopted "thanks living" by taking time each day to stop and count our blessings? After all each day is truly a gift. "Thanks living" is actually a biblical concept that was exhibited in the life of King David who said “I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.” (Psalm 9:1 ESV) David realized that all of God’s deeds, great and small, are worthy of our gratitude--and worship.

The word “worship” is derived from the word “worth” and used to express the worthiness of God. We worship in various ways: song, dance, reading the Bible and prayer. An important element of prayer is giving thanks. When we take the time to count our blessings and offer thanks to the One responsible for them, in essence, we are worshipping. It is not so much about our physical position as it is the condition of our hearts.

A grateful heart pauses to express their affection to the giver. When we take the time to worship God we humbly express our gratefulness for His guidance, protection and provision in our lives. He’s faithful to us on a daily basis--not just one day a year.

"Thanks living" acknowledges the sun when it comes up in the morning and the stars as they twinkle at night and breathes thanks; hears the laughter of a child or feels the hug of a loved one and feeling blessed. "Thanks living" sees a roof overhead, food on the table, a warm bed to sleep in and feels grateful.

How we choose to keep a record of our blessings is not nearly as important as actually recognizing them and setting aside time to reflect upon the "Giver of all things--God." That is the largest challenge I will face over the next thirty days. Yet I look forward to it and and hope that it will continue as a part of my daily devotionals long after the month of November.

If we were to make a list of blessings, using words that span the entire alphabet, we'd quickly see how much we have to be thankful for. Were we to choose just one blessing each day, for which to express gratitude, we could probably spend the rest of our lives giving thanks.

Sounds like a great way to live.

I'll be linking up with Leah, at South Breeze Farm, for the 2010 Giving Thanks Challenge and hope to see you there. I'm a little late in writing this introductory post and am THANKFUL that my friend Debbie over at Heart Choices shared about the challenge, which is in it's fourth year, on her blog yesterday.

Now, on with the "thanks living."

1 comment:

Debbie Petras said...

Melinda, I'm so glad to see that you're joining in this thankful challenge. I for one, love the month of November. With Thanksgiving, I feel less pressure and there's no manditory gifts to buy. I love to simply appreciate the friends and family and now even my blogging friends too.

You are always so eloquent and write so beautifully.

Blessings and love,

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