My thoughts (David Zier):
When I was younger, signs of the Holidays would start around Thanksgiving and last until New Years Day. Now, the stores are full of holiday stuff before October, and houses start dressing up for the holidays when the calendar turns to November. I think it’s good that we can all celebrate, give thanks, and spread joy together.
But I sometimes wonder — do we really stop to think about the blessings God has given us long enough before we’re engaged in the business of the holidays. When one of the busiest shopping days before Christmas is the day AFTER Thanksgiving, who has time?
When I’m out and about being busy with preparing for the Thanksgiving meal, shopping and going to parties for Christmas, worrying about those on our Christmas lists, or fretting about what to wear to the next holiday party, where is my heart and what am I trying to accomplish beyond getting to the finish line?
Instead of viewing Thanksgiving as the day for turkey, and the time for a ritual prayer, perhaps it could be the start of an intentional season of Thanksgiving that takes us through the holidays. Not just in giving thanks to God, but giving thanks to others, blessing others, forgiving others, and doing something for others that would be contrary to the grudges, prejudices, and judgments we cling to.
In today’s scripture, Jesus tells us that it is easy to love those who love us, to do good to those who are good to us, and to give to those who give to us. Jesus is asking us to have this attitude for all; to forgive and to have mercy on all. I think Jesus is telling us to have a generous heart even when it seems contrary to what’s logical.
For the weeks until the end of the year, consider setting aside a little bit of time to do the following:
- Focus on giving thanks to God. Not just in prayer, but by what you do, how you act, and how you speak.
- We are incredibly blessed, yet we find reasons to complain all the time. Any time you or others in your household complain, have them place money in a jar. You can decide on the amount. Then at the end of the year, donate the money to a ministry that blesses people.
- Bless someone you have difficulty getting along with, or someone you don’t even know. Send a card, an encouraging letter or email, find out if there is a special need you can meet, pray with the person, or provide materially or with an act of service.
- Show forgiveness; forgive someone you need to forgive.
- Or come up with your own creative way to encourage a season of Thanksgiving.
In Jesus own words, “forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”
Thought for the day: Am I showing Thanksgiving by my actions?
We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to start, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.