Thanksgiving is a time when “we gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing.”

My Brothers and Sisters, give thanks for the season of  thanksgiving that makes our lives radiate with the love of God. Here are five suggestions for deepening our Thanksgiving celebrations.

PRAISE GOD. Many of us gather at Thanksgiving and speak about what we are thankful for. But perhaps we are not quite as articulate about why we give thanks. This year give praise and thanksgiving to God with your family. Give thanks for your family, job, home, and blessings” and find specific things to praise in each person in your family.  For example, express thanks for a loved one’s quiet strength, sense of humor, or loving support. Be grateful for the warmth of an age-weathered home. Sing loudly about the love and witness of a church family that loves and supports many with the love of Jesus.

TALK AND LISTEN. Put away the electronic devices, turn off cell phones and the speakers, get away from hectic holiday schedules, and engage people near and far in heartfelt conversation. Go beyond topics like the weather and sports to listen and connect with people face-to-face and heart-to-heart and fill up on loving fellowship instead of only food.

RECONCILE AND FORGIVE. It’s easy to express thanks for what or who we like and to toss away that which is undesirable or broken. Indeed, most of us also have people that we do not especially appreciate but that God has placed in our lives for a purpose. This season is a good time of the year to look at the broken parts in our lives, the relationships that have gone wrong or the promises we have made but broken. In seeking reconciliation ask yourself: Who do I need to forgive and ask for forgiveness?          How can we move toward reconciliation? Pray for healing so that your thanksgiving can be full of love and peace.

SERVE. Serving people in soup kitchens and homeless shelters at this time of year is a beautiful way to show respect, love, and care to those in need. As part of giving thanks, consider extending the bounty you enjoy to include coordinating food drives at church during other times of the year, when there are fewer volunteers but the same, aching need. Perhaps you may want to invite to thanksgiving dinner persons that you know who have no family nearby.

EMBRACE. Holidays can be times of conflict as loved ones gather and discover or rekindle profound differences. In reality, even if we grew up together, live in the same town, and share many commonalities, we are, each of us, uniquely different. This Thanksgiving, instead of highlighting what could separate us, try to focus on the essence of Thanksgiving. As the hymn goes, “we gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing,” we seek unity and embrace people in our families, our church and our community sharing the love of God with everyone.

Happy Thanksgiving, Love, Pastor Lia

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