“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
Thanksgiving Day elicits a bounty of wonderful memories and warm feelings for many people in the U.S. during this special time of year. While the Thanksgiving holiday is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November in the U.S., thanking God for our blessings is a spiritual discipline that should not be limited to a single day.
It is a spiritual practice of many religions and a hallmark of Christianity: gratitude, giving thanks, showing appreciation for all that we have and the wonderful world God gave us.
In his commentary on 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, John Wesley writes, “Thanksgiving is inseparable from true prayer; it is almost essentially connected with it.” Giving thanks is as essential to our spiritual growth as prayer, which 1 Thessalonians calls us to do continually.
Develop an Attitude of Gratitude
Read the article: Thanksgiving and Thanks Sharing: Engage your church with gratitude by Lauren Glass of United Methodist Communciations and get some great ideas to incorporate this month.
Listed below are some creative ideas from the United Methodist Communciations article: Easy ways to share gratitude this Thanksgiving by Joe Iovino:
- Start a Gratitude Journal. If you want to start attracting positive things into your life, show your gratitude, appreciation and love for the people and things around you every day. Start a journal and write five minutes a day. By acknowledging what you are grateful for in your journal, you’ll deliberately attract positive vibrations.
- Send appreciation cards. Write notes of appreciation to church staff, teachers, neighbors, mailman, soldiers, janitors, and acknowledge their work and say thank you. Remember those who are not able to be with you this year by making or purchasing cards for them.
- Fill a family Thanksgiving box. As part of your Thanksgiving preparation, create a Thanksgiving Box. Each day family members write on slips of paper something for which they are thankful that day and place them in the decorated box or jar.
- Serve someone. In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, many agencies serving those in need expand their work. Food banks, churches, and other service organizations supply meals to the hungry on Thanksgiving. Ask your pastor for suggestions of places near you to serve or donate.
- Take time for quiet reflection. As the big day approaches, things get busier. Set aside some time each day to say thank you to God for all he has provided. “A Morning Prayer of Thanksgiving” by The Rev. Dr. LaGretta Bjorn is a great start.
- Invite someone new to dinner. Athens First United Methodist Church invites international students from the University of Georgia to spend Thanksgiving with their members. The students enjoy spending time away from campus and in family homes. Explore ways to invite those who may be alone or far from family to celebrate with you on the holiday.
- Include children. Involve the children celebrating with you by sharing the Child’s Thanksgiving Prayer. Use this prayer at the kids’ table as a grace or an after meal blessing, having one of the older children lead. Then encourage the kids to write their own Thanksgiving prayers, with which they could lead the adults in prayer later in the day.
Let us thank Him
Gratitude is an amazing lens with which to view the world. When we look at what we have, we tend to be happier. When we realize how much we possess, we tend to be more thoughtful of those who have less. When we talk about the good together, we tend to appreciate each other more.
Being grateful is really about being more mindful. Perhaps this mindfulness will help us all to focus on the abundance in our lives and how we can share it with others.
This November, engage in gratitude. Thanks be to God!