Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.
My family loves to celebrate different holidays. My maternal grandmother loves to go out of her way to develop new and fun games depending on the particular festivity. On Easter there is always an easter egg hunt in addition to counting all of the different easter bunnies throughout the house. On Christmas we are usually given a random assortment of objects with the challenge to create something that is indicative of the Advent season in addition to trivia quizzes about differing Christmas songs, scriptures, and traditions. I will wear my grandfather’s lederhosen while my sisters will wear some of my grandmother’s dirndls. Holidays are a big deal.
On Thanksgiving we always gather together as a family while also inviting friends to partake in this special holiday. The abundance of food and guests usually leaves us with having to put up temporary tables in different rooms in order to accommodate. There is usually some sort of Turkey quiz, or an acrostic poem for something like “M-A-S-H-E-D-P-O-T-A-T-O-E-S.” But the best thanksgiving tradition takes place immediately following the blessing of the food where everyone has to go around the table and share with the group what they are most thankful for. One of my uncles usually says something that makes the entire table laugh, one of my cousins leaves us with something deep to ponder, and my grandmother usually has us all in tears by the time she finishes. I love sharing what we are thankful for because it gives us a time and a space to reflect on the goodness in our lives with the people who embody God’s goodness for us.
In his letter to the Philippians, Paul writes about the Christian life as happy and holy. He encourages the budding Christian community to rejoice in the Lord, to think about the blessings in their lives, and to keep the faith.
As we gather together this week to celebrate Thanksgiving with our friends and family I encourage you to share the goodness of your lives. Reflect on how God has made your life happy and holy. Reflect on how you can be a blessing for others.
Remember that as you gather together around a communal table, Christ has invited you to partake of him at his table. That from Him all blessings flow. That we all have something to be thankful for: the gift of God’s son, Jesus Christ.