I heard someone on TV say this recently: "I love Thanksgiving because it's all about gratitude...there's no religion getting in the way." Reeeeaaallly? This comment got me to thinking. Scary. I know. And I'm not even beginning to cover the history of the day and the clearly religious origins. My confusion from this statement is even more basic than that.
Thanksgiving. Thanks. Giving. Giving thanks. Okay, he was partly right. It is all about gratitude. But doesn't the giving of thanks imply a recipient? So, to whom are you grateful? I suppose there are those who focus on family or health or good friends. I'm thankful for all those things. But where do they come from? Maybe some are just thankful for their home, their job, and good food on the table. Okay, but again who supplies those things?
Assuming that there is no God (which some propose to be the most logical and intelligent conclusion) I'm left wondering where that leaves this thing we call Thanksgiving. If I am to be thankful and the act of thankfulness implies the existence of some object to whom my thankfulness should be directed; then what on earth are my options? Let's consider a few.
We could all be thankful to our ancestors. Perhaps you're great, great, grandparents were immigrants who worked their way from the bottom to eek out a place for themselves in this grand country. That's worthy of gratitude. But...my kids are black and their ancestors were brought here involuntarily in the bellow of slave ships. Do their ancestors want to be thanked for that?
How about being thankful to my husband for being such a hard worker and for providing for our crew? I am certainly thankful for my man and all he does for this family. But suppose he lost his job or his health deteriorated to the point that he couldn't work anymore...would I have to withdraw my thanks or would there be something (Someone) who continues to sustain us?
Or perhaps instead of saying "grace" to a non-existent God this year, we will gather in a circle on the front lawn and shout our gratitude to the great cosmic forces of the universe! That should be meaningful. yeah.
Or better yet. I could just be thankful to myself for all my accomplishments and for staying healthy and being a hard worker; for cooking a great dinner and for not killing my kids. That's it. I can turn Thanksgiving into a celebration of self. Perfect. Except for the fact that I am fully aware of what a loser I am on even my best day.
In the end, it seems to me that the "illogical" choice of worshipping a loving and holy God who blesses us with every spiritual blessing and is the source of every good and perfect gift makes the most sense after all.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! And a special shout out of love to our missionary friends (especially those celebrating Thanksgiving away from family for the first time.) We pray that God will give you awesome new traditions and want you to know that we are thankful to Him for YOU!!!