Thanksgiving: A Reflection by Deacon Jim Hyatt

Two weeks ago, we traveled to Washington DC with two of our kids to visit family. Now I have not been to DC in a long time so we played tourist for a long weekend and saw many of the sights including the WWII memorial, the Vietnam memorial, and others. Now today, Washington DC is not a place where you immediately think of God right? With all the political fighting, it is not a bastion of holiness. But nonetheless, I found myself thinking of God because of what I saw. Yes, thinking of the sacrifice of all the dead in the war memorials was moving, but it was in the Lincoln memorial where I was reminded of God and the place he had in the lives of those who lived then.

I was so impressed! God was indeed honored and a bigger part of the lives of the people back then, and the action of the leaders of our Government, were formed and influenced by God heavily. He was a consideration in our young country – how we governed and what the right ideals to live by were. While we did not live by those standards consistently, and thankfully we have a forgiving God, we as a people knew the ideals and what God expected of us, and we were thankful. In the Lincoln memorial, I read his second inaugural speech. This moving speech was fairly short, but in it he mentioned or referred to God nine times. Nine times! We are not seeing that in many Washington speeches today that’s for sure.

So while I am not holding my breath that our leaders of today will suddenly find God again, it got me thinking about how I may or may not be living to that ideal, His ideal, and how I may or may not be encouraging that ideal to those around me.

Can I do that? Can I make a more definitive commitment to God? Can I be more open and demonstrative of our faith and ideals? Can I fall at his feet and thank Him? In our readings today, we also see a people who have God at the center of their lives and recognize His ideals for us. In the first reading we hear praise and thanksgiving for Israel and a wish for God’s peace to abide in the whole country. It says, “May his goodness toward us endure in Israel to deliver us in our days.” Trust, love, living his ideals.

Fast forward several hundred years to the Gospel and we see a scene where Jesus enters a village on his way to Jerusalem. While passing through, ten people with leprosy cry out to him in desperation, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” They are desperate for a cure from their dreadful disease and hopeful that Jesus may help them. And help them he does, he cures all ten. Nine of them go off to celebrate their cure while one returns to Jesus. It says he returned, “Glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.” God is important in his life, he recognizes that this gift is from God and so he does what a person living by the ideals of God should do, he falls to his knees and thanks him.

The Lincoln speech and the cured leper share and demonstrate a love for God and a recognition that what we have in life is a gift from God. We today, on Thanksgiving, can maybe do the same. When we are around our dinner tables about to enjoy what in most places would be called a feast, maybe we should give thanks with a deeper understanding of what we are thankful for and who we are thankful to. It’s easy each year to say a quick grace and get to the food, but maybe pause this year before or after the meal, ask all to reflect on what they are thankful for and who they are thankful to. What we enjoy today, the food, the family, the roof over our heads, is all because we have a loving God who we have and will continue to turn to throughout our lives, and who will continue to be there for us. Every time.

A slower, more heartfelt grace and a conversation around the table of what we are thankful for. Like when God was important to our country, that’s what you did on Thanksgiving, we can do the same today in our homes. Maybe we can’t change the country, but we can change a little piece of it!

Our way of falling at the feet of Jesus to let him know that we know what he has done for us.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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