Today as I was driving to my office, listening to a Christian Radio station the voices of a number of people were heard giving thanks for what they were thankful for. The radio station had solicited these remarks. I was very surprised to hear an adult male voice say: “I am thankful for candy corn.” I instantly went to the thought that has crossed my mind many times…is that it? Is that all there is to life? That is just NUTS! Children were heard giving thanks for brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers; very few were heard to give thanks for Jesus Christ and His gift of salvation. Wow! So giving thanks is relegated to “I am thankful for candy corn.”
In a small country church that I used to pastor there was one person who always said, “I love my little church” with emphasis on “little.” Sort of a veiled threat to not do anything to facilitate growth in his church after all it is his church you know. Many times I wondered if he was thankful that he was in control of the little church and if it got bigger he might not be able to control it any more. Sort of a candy corn thanksgiving, a lack of big picture thankfulness that makes me wonder how many people really know how to give thanks and who to give it to.
The English did not call the 1621 event a “thanksgiving.” A day of “thanksgiving” was very different for the colonists. It was a day of prayer to thank God when something really good happened. The English actually had their first thanksgiving in the summer of 1623. On this day they gave thanks for the rain that ended a long drought.
Using this paragraph from an online source on “Thanksgiving” we can get a picture that should help us give thanks.
1. It was a day of prayer to thank God when something really good happened.
A. Historically the first thanksgiving for the colonists was for thank God for a rain that ended a long drought.
B. Later these same colonists thanked God for their first and good harvest since arriving in the new country.
2. It is a day or period of days in which we focus on God and the good gifts that he has provided us. We are taught in the Bible, that through out the history of the chosen people of God there were times, places and events that elicited thanksgiving to God.
3. So, thanksgiving is a time to focus on God…not candy corn.
4. So what am I thankful for?
i. Jesus and the forgiveness of sin
ii. The Church and fellowship with God and other believers
iii. The Bible and the Word that it presents to us
iv. Communion and the remembering that it brings
v. My family
a. Parents and the memories of my Father and LeAnn’s Father and Mother who have gone to be with Jesus.
b. My brother…even though we aren’t as close as I would like to be.
c. My wife who is possibly the Godliest person I know
d. My Children, Donna (Jim), Marsha (Mike), Chad & Lauren
e. My Grandchildren: Trevor, Brayden, Zachary, Alexis, Ashton
f. My closest friends; to many to name
g. My Accountability group from New Albany
h. The call to ordained ministry
i. The church & Senior Pastor I now serve in a small way; Center UMC
j. Freedom to worship God without fear of reprisal
k. Roof over my head, clothes to wear, food to eat & transportation
l. Reasonable health/decent insurance plan
m. The valuable lessons I have learned through living and experiencing community
n. Intellectual interchange and stimulating conversation with friends.
o. The desire to research God’s Word for deeper and clearer understanding
p. Spiritually stimulating worship experiences
q. Experiencing God
r. Helping others experience God
s. Great Christian Music that stimulates my worship experiences
t. The gentle touch of a close friend
u. Making new friends
v. Honest laughter
w. Tears of joy
x. Words of encouragement
y. Dreams of Heaven
z. Hearing: Enter in to your reward my good and faithful servant.
Isn’t interesting that I never got to candy corn, prime rib, green bean casserole or Blue Bunny chocolate Ice cream. Isn’t it interesting that I never got to the Republican, Democrat, or Tea Party. Isn’t it interesting that I never got to Face book, You Tube, Google, Android or television. Isn’t it interesting that I never got to President Obama, Sarah Palin, CNN or Fox News. Isn’t interesting that I never got to Feminist Theology, The enlightenment, Scientology, New Age, various forms of Biblical criticism. Isn’t it interesting that I never got to the new Rudeness movement in the U. S. especially among the political camps and talk show hosts.
Renewing our understanding of who we are to give thanks to and why; should stop the frivolous remarks like, “I’m thankful for candy corn.” Let’s spend some time during this season reflecting on God and what God has done for us…and be really thankful.