Thanksgiving is one of the few holidays that hasn’t been overly commercialized yet, unless you count grocery stores. We eat. We visit family. We eat some more. We watch a football game. We eat again.

But Thanksgiving Day was originally designed to give us a rare opportunity to slow down and be thankful. Whether for family and friends who support us or for events or decisions that shape us, we are thankful for a God who loves, forgives and restores us through Jesus Christ. We have a lot to be thankful for.

One way to say thanks is through a Moravian Blessing:

Come, Lord Jesus, our guest to be,
And bless these gifts, bestowed by Thee.
And bless our loved ones everywhere,
And keep them in Your loving care.

We can give also thanks by singing. A favorite Thanksgiving Hymn is “We Gather Together” At the time the song was written, the Dutch were engaged in a war of national liberation from Spain. Under Spanish rule, Dutch Protestants were forbidden to gather for worship. “We gather together” chronicles as well as protests those difficult and often violent times.

We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing; .
He chastens and hastens His will to make known.
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.
Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own.

We can also give thanks through remembering Scripture: Psalm 100 is filled with praise and thanksgiving.

Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! Worship the Lord with gladness.
Come before Him, singing with joy. Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
He made us, and we are His. We are His people, the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving; go into His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him and praise His name.
For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever,
and His faithfulness continues to each generation.

I love the images of the words:

• Shout with joy
• Worship with gladness
• Come before Him singing
• Enter with Thanksgiving

While celebrating thanksgiving, we should also pray for the needs of others. So many were struck down by fires, hurricanes and other tragic events. We pray for the families and communities impacted by the numerous acts of violence. We pause a moment to remember and pray for the needs of others.

O God, when I have food… help me to remember the hungry.
When I have work… help me to remember the jobless.
When I have a home… help me to remember those who have no home at all.
When I am without pain… help me to remember those who suffer.

And remembering, help me to destroy my complacency;
bestir my compassion, and be concerned enough to help
by word and deed, those who cry out for what we take for granted. Amen.

  • Samuel F. Pugh

Thanksgiving gives us the rare opportunity to slow down and be thankful. Enjoy the food, savor your time with friends and family but especially take time to appreciate the significance of this day “and be concerned enough to help by word and deed, those who cry out for what we take for granted. Amen.”