It is Thanksgiving again and that means it is time to drag out the list of “I’m grateful for’s” and “I love that God did this.” Then we will most assuredly put away our fall decorations in favor of strands of Christmas lights and trees. Our news stories will blow up with crazy stories about things people have done on Black Friday. We may even forget about all those things we shared the day before, around a magnificent feast served by our favorite aunts or parents. It would seem that for many that one day of gratitude would be all that we would get. Well, until Christmas…then we will show gratitude for the gifts…right?
In a society run by the urgent it seems to me that it would be hard to be grateful for those things that we have been given. All too often, in the fast paces of our lives we lose those things that we should be grateful for. Our families, our friends, our churches, our neighbors, a house to live in, the list goes on and on. Those things simply become part of the blur that is our life passing by the window. If there is one thing I have learned in the last year it is that those things are important and should never be forgotten. But how do we go through life without forgetting those things that should make us grateful? It may have to start with a change in our hearts.
Recently my pastor preached a sermon series on the Christmas story. This would not normally be odd but it was in the middle of September. His reasoning? He wanted us to look at the Christmas story without the distractions of the Hallmark side of the holiday. Without the constant demands and Christmas music, he wanted us to look at the Christmas story outside of the context of Christmas. It was brilliant and one of those things that I wrote down to do somewhere along the way through pastoral ministry.
On a similar note someone once said “Celebrate Christmas year round.” Meaning that we should remember the spirit and the story of Christmas from January 1st to December 31st, in the way we treat each other and in the attitude of love everyone seems to have during the Christmas season. Christ should be the focus of our lives year around. For that matter we should also celebrate Easter year around.
The thoughts and feelings are powerful, the attitude that we have towards one another at Christmas should not simply be contained to those 12 or 25 or however many days of Christmas we have now. This Christian walk should be a year around commitment to showing love to one another like we do at Christmas time. The effect of the birth, death and resurrection of Christ should be felt year around, and so should the attitudes and thoughts we have at Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, not only because I like to eat, but because I have a lot to truly be grateful for. I have a family who loves me, even if they are several states away. A father who gives me excellent advice on sermons and a mother who builds me up and encourage me. Siblings who long to see me and skype with me I have a best friend who encourages me to be a man of God. I have friends who consider me a dear brother in Christ. I have a church that wants to hear solid preaching from the word of God and to top it off I have the chance every day to serve the God of the universe and be an example of His love for those around me.
What else is there to be thankful for? There is so much, to think and list all such things would take more time then I have…or words for that matter. The point is that we all have a lot to be thankful for regardless of where we are or what we are going through. We all have so much to be thankful for whether we realize it or not. Genuine, real things and we get to celebrate those things on Thanksgiving, with all the turkey and football and whatnot. The trick is showing that gratitude year around.
A Year of Gratitude
If it takes 40 days for something to become a habit then what does something become after a year? A way of life! If we showed gratitude year around how would our lives be different? If we actually took the time to thank others when they did something for us how would the lives of other’s be changed? What if we were truly thankful to God for everything He has given?
What if…one day at a time, for the total number of days being 365 we woke up and asked God for attitude of gratitude? We may see a major change in our hearts. Negative thoughts may be replaced with positive thoughts. That hardship that was weighing on you may become a chance to praise God. This is not a challenge to be taken lightly, in fact it must be taken seriously. We are talking about a life changing attitude change.
It is important to remember though that we do not make a change like this on our own. It is by the power of the Holy Spirit that was given by God, promised by the son who died on the cross for our sins, was dead and buried and rose again on the third day and now he sits at the right hand of God the father. Because he, being by his very nature God, never considered equality with God something to be grasped, but humbled himself to death and one day we will get to spend eternity with Him and that is something to be grateful for all year around.