It seems almost like a cliche, but it is true. We have so much for which to be thankful. To start with there are those obvious things that make our lives so much simpler than in other generations. One modern mother listed some of those things:
- automatic dishwashers. They make it possible to get out of the kitchen before the family comes in for after-dinner snacks.
- husbands who attack small repair jobs around the house. They usually make them big enough to call in professionals.
- children who put away their things and clean up after themselves. They're such a joy you hate to see them go home to their own parents.
- teen-agers. They give parents an opportunity to learn a second language.
and especially for Thanksgiving - smoke alarms. They let you know when the turkey is done.
At this time of year, saying that we are thankful seems like the appropriate thing to do. But, might it be said that being thankful and saying we are thankful are not exactly the same thing? Observing Thanksgiving with a big meal and lots of family does not necessarily make us thankful. Being thankful is more than a tradition, it is more than a polite expression, or carefully chosen words. It is instead something that is lived. Living thankfully begins with the realization that there is indeed someone to thank. It is more than an emotion we feel when things are going well, or words we say when we need to appear gracious.
Instead, living thankfully requires that we acknowledge that we are blessed, that we have far more than we deserve, and that our greatest blessings are independent of the circumstances of our lives. We live in a fragile world, and life itself is a fragile thing. We saw that in a graphic way on Sept. 11, 2001. But when the circumstances of our lives change, the One who blesses us doesn't. Our most cherished blessings remain, and they cannot be destroyed by terrorists, stolen by thieves or lost along with the rest of our 401K. And so, we respond to our great blessings by thanking the God who gives them and then by living thankfully so we can become an instrument that brings blessings to others.
Like so many other communities, so many of those blessings are prevalent right here in Sikeston. There is the Sikeston Rescue Mission, which so lovingly blesses those who need it. Mission Missouri is a great blessing in many lives. The Kenny Rogers Children's Center is a place where the miracle of blessing takes place every day. Countless churches across our community quietly make a difference day after day. And all that, and so much more, happens because there are thankful people who realize they have far more than they deserve and want to live thankfully, blessing someone else.
It is often said that happiness is seeing a sunset and knowing who to thank. There is truth in that. It helps us not just say thank you, but to live thankfully. What a great challenge for this great holiday - to determine that our words of gratitude on Thanksgiving Day will be sincere expressions of a desire to live thankfully. Then saying "thank you" will mean something.
O God, may our words of thanksgiving and our celebrations this Thanksgiving Day, be more than tradition or polite expressions. Instead, may we acknowledge you as the One who blesses us. Would you please allow us the privilege of being a blessing to someone else whose life needs to be enriched. Thank you O God, for all that you have given us.
the Rev. Carl Addison
Tanner Street Church of God