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”.
An important way of doing that is to remember. It is to remember all the ways we have been blessed. Then we can begin to think about how we can share similar blessings with others. Otherwise, today just becomes another instance of our living a self-centered, comfortable life style marked by over consumption and excess.
So I have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, but I also have a lot to think about. Maybe you do too?