And just like that, Thanksgiving is staring us right in the face. You wouldn’t know it from the advertising though. It seems like every year advertising switches from Halloween straight into Christmas. Why is that? Why do we as a culture always try to keep two steps ahead? When did Thanksgiving start to get such a bum rap? When did Thanksgiving become a speed bump for “Black Friday?”

If you hear about Thanksgiving at all these days, most of the talk is about how much food we eat (or try not to eat) and the uncomfortable interactions we have at gatherings with extended family members:

“Uncle Eddy is stinking up the bathroom again.”

“Can you believe cousin Janice brought up her wacky political views again?”

“Did they raise THOSE KIDS in a barn?”

“How many hours until we can leave?”

We seem to have grown to hate the holiday because of the uncomfortable interactions with people we’re supposed to love.

Maybe we’re hating the holiday because we’ve lost focus on what it is supposed to be about!

The idea of Thanksgiving presupposes Someone to whom we are giving thanks. Pausing to express gratitude only works when we have someone to express the gratitude towards. We can’t really say:

“O great Big Bang and random collection of evolutionary events, survival of the fittest, national power, and years of personal hard work and self-determination, thank you.”

I’m trying hard to keep this blog from becoming another one of those “we’ve taken God out of our culture”posts. But at the same time, we do need to ask the question:

“Where is God in your Thanksgiving plans?”

When we turn back to the Bible, we see that thanksgiving should be part of our everyday life as followers of Christ. We are called to live lives saturated with gratitude to God for all He has done for us. Everything. The good and the hard. The wins and losses. Everything is an opportunity to give thanks. Everything.

But we don’t. I don’t. And often I don’t stop to give God the thanks He deserves because I’m not paying attention. Or I’m too busy. Or I’m moving on to the next thing to do on my list. This is how my life gets out of balance. This is why I so often fail to give thanks.

But I don’t have to live this way. We don’t have to live this way.

Let’s take back Thanksgiving this year.

Not in a “culture war” kind of way, but in a personal revival kind of way.

Join me in trying to build in some time and space to pause. To reflect. To give thanks to God for all that He has done.

This coming Sunday will be an opportunity to do that. This coming Sunday will be different. We won’t be having services or Sunday school on Sunday morning, but will meet together at 5PM to share ways we have seen God work in our lives over the last year.

May I suggest that you carve out an hour or two Sunday morning (or even before that) to reflect on God’s goodness to you over the last year? Don’t fill that morning church time with more activities. The news and football can wait. Pause. Get an extra cup of coffee or tea. Turn off the electronics. Ask God to remind you of His faithfulness to you in specific ways over the last year. Be ready to listen! Write something down. Welcome His input in your life! And maybe even think about sharing some of what you hear Sunday morning with the rest of us on Sunday evening at 5.

I believe a personal revival of gratitude to God will be infectious for us as a church here in Tucson. Join me in slowing down a little this week and reflecting on God’s goodness to us. Join me and ask God to stir us as we gather next Sunday so that we honor and thank Him for all His goodness to us. Join me in preparing our hearts to celebrate Thanksgiving once again.

See you Wednesday, Friday, or Sunday!

Pastor Jason