Today is Thanksgiving. The great irony of the day is, of course, that very little thanksgiving will actually take place! There will be plenty of cooking, eating, and watching sports. But in terms of actually giving thanks, that will most likely be relegated to a single prayer said by a single person, a brief and customary tradition rather than an appropriately extravagant expression of thanks and praise to God.
The opening verses of today’s reading from James are instructive. They speak of giving God the proper place in our lives; of acknowledging our complete and total dependence on Him. If on Thanksgiving Day we enjoy the bounty before us without intentionally stopping, and with great focus and clarity, recognizing that it is only by God’s grace that we are enjoying such things, then we are guilty of committing the sin James describes here.
The second half of today’s reading from James, beginning in Chapter 5, talks about another very important way we acknowledge God’s place in our lives and practicing what he wrote about in the previous verses: To the best of our knowledge, we live right.
And I’d suggest that perhaps the greatest way we give thanks to God for all He has done for us is to do just that: to live in harmony with the ways and will of God. So another thing we might do on Thanksgiving Day is spend some time considering “how should we then live”.
Personally, I can’t help but think of how at this time last year I was in Mississippi serving others. I can’t help but remember how right that felt, like for once in my life at least I hit the bull’s-eye dead on. And I can’t help but think how it has been so easy since then to fall back into a more self-centered, comfortable life style. I may live simply in regards to most, but that does not mean that I am free from our culture’s obsession with things at the expense of people.
So I have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, but I also have a lot to think about. Maybe you do too?