Cross Over The Bridge

Here we are closing in on the start of another holiday season that will take us through to the first of year 2007. On Thanksgiving evening, many will turn on the Christmas lights, if they haven’t done that already. I have mine hung by the eaves with care, just hoping that Saint Nick will spot them from the air. I really look forward to turning them on because I get a tremendous kick out of Christmas and all that it represents—both as a holiday and as a holy day.

But before I do that, I want to give some time and thought to that other holiday that shows up on the 23rd of November---the National Holiday of Thanksgiving. The words of a Thanksgiving hymn that has its roots in a rural setting goes like this:

Come ye thankful people come.
Raise the song of harvest home,
‘Ere the winter storms begin.
God our maker doth provide
For our wants to be supplied…

It seems to me that there is a tendency for us to feel that we are rather sophisticated—maybe a little too sophisticated to consider the thought that God is the true source of food. Yet, if we have any remnants of faith left, no meal should ever be eaten without thanksgiving—that is the way we maintain a vital relationship with the God who keeps us alive.

In our culture, there is a growing element of rudeness and crudeness—and a tendency on the part of many people not to say or think thanks. And the root cause of this change to the rude, crude, lewd, and common is more than a change of style and manners. To neglect or refuse to express appreciation for what others have done for us means that we do not consider the efforts and sacrifices of others important. Yet none of us stands alone—we are involved in life process and pilgrimage that has been supported by those who came before us and those with us still! I am in deft to both the Greeks and the barbarians; to both the wise and the foolish!

In these days of this national holiday of Thanksgiving, I am thankful for the faith and courage of the pilgrims—which made this nation possible. Their determination, courage, and vision laid the foundation for a new experiment in human freedom—they gave us a rich and noble beginning. I am also grateful that George Washington proclaimed November 26, 1789 a Thanksgiving Day—in the midst of a most trying time as a fledgling nation was struggling to be born, working toward a miracle at Philadelphia. And there was Abraham Lincoln, in the middle of an uncivil Civil War, proclaiming that November 26, 1863 would be a Day of Thanksgiving to God. Now it has become a part of our national heritage. We latter day pilgrims keep it alive as we gather in churches, in homes—to give thanks to God for life, for freedom, for family, for friends and for others.

Thanksgiving is an attitude of mind, heart and spirit. In giving thanks we realize and are appreciative for what we already have because it always adds up to more than we thought. Most of us have been greatly blessed and that helps us become more aware of blessings as they are given—and as we count them one by one the realization often comes that they add up to far more than we would ask or think Life is somehow opened up by gratitude for blessings given. Thanksgiving is one of the ways we decide what has worth; thanksgiving is a kind of truth serum. When we listen to ourselves express our unguarded feelings of thanks—that tells us what we consider important in our lives. By our thanksgiving, we clarify for ourselves what has lasting worth and what purpose living has. And it seems to turn out that we either live with thanksgiving, or we do not live. Thanksgiving—it is the only way to live!

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