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It’s hard to know how much of our national story about the first Thanksgiving meal is historically accurate. But we do know that thanksgiving and gratitude have a long history in our faith, well before this country came to be. Many Psalms include descriptions or offerings of thanks, like Psalm 7:17, Psalm 28:7, Psalm 69:30-31, and Psalm 100 (and this is just a short list!). During the prophet Isaiah’s time, God’s people were struggling and wondering where God is in the midst of their suffering. They found hope in the vision of a future when they may again give thanks to God (Isaiah 12; Isaiah 51:3). Jesus is remembered as offering prayers of gratitude when he blessed loaves and fishes, like in Matthew 15:36 and Mark 8:6. Even Paul begins his letters with a word of thanks (like Romans 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3) -- wouldn’t it be encouraging if all of our texts and emails and tweets and posts started with gratitude!

How is thanksgiving and gratitude part of your life, in November and throughout the rest of the year? Is it easy to notice what you are grateful for? Are you a glass-is-half-full kind of person? Or maybe, like in Isaiah’s time, you are just hoping for a future day when you again will be able to offer prayers of thanksgiving?

Many of those letters to the early church in our New Testament/Second Testament encourage thanksgiving in the lives of Jesus’ followers, no matter what is going on around them. Ephesians 5:4, “Entirely out of place is obscene, silly, and vulgar talk; but instead let there be thanksgiving.” Philippians 4:6, “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Colossians 4:2, “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving.” 1 Timothy 2:1, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone,...”

For our ancestors of faith, taking a moment to recall what we are thankful for didn’t just happen once a year. This November, consider taking up a daily spiritual practice of gratitude for the month. Before bed write down, draw a picture of, or recall one thing you are grateful for from the day. Offer it up to God in thanksgiving. Share with your family or roommate over breakfast or at the dinner table. Post your thanksgiving on our congregation’s Facebook page (“FCC Nevada”) so we may be grateful with you. Tell us about it when we share joys and concerns during worship. Maybe this practice will last out past our Thanksgiving Day holiday.

 
Shalom,
Pastor Anjeanette