Thanksgiving is not just about the food
November 18, 2011
I enjoy playing with words. Thanksgiving is a day, a season and an attitude. For many it is a way of life. Giving thanks in every situation. Finding something to be thankful for when all seems lost. Psalm 100 says it best. From the New Revised Standard Bible, “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come into his presence with singing. Know that the Lord is God. It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, bless his name. For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.”
I grew up in a home that did not worship regularly. The one day of the year when we all put on our best clothes and gathered at the table and my dad actually offered a prayer was Thanksgiving. I believe that the cultural celebration of Thanksgiving gave my family the opportunity to express their faith. With the passing of years I understand more fully the dynamic at play when I was growing up. Though my family did not attend church, there was a spirit moving among us that bound us together in grace. Norman Wirzba seems to capture that spirit in his book, “Food and Faith: A Theology of Eating.” In it he asks the question, “Why did God create a world in which every living creature must eat?” His answer, “Eating joins people to each other, to other creatures and to the world, and to God through forms of ‘natural communion’ too complex to fathom.” Later he writes, “To transform eating onto a spiritual exercise is to cultivate the practical conditions and habits – attention, conversation, reflection, gratitude, honest accounting . . . for us to see with depth and appreciate the gifted a graced character of the world…. We must be capable of communion, capable of entering into and seeing the value of community that is not simply a collectivity.” Breaking bread together is much more than having a meal. Thanksgiving is an opportunity to break the bonds of our daily routines and sit down together in an attitude of gratitude, honoring our heritage and envisioning our future while giving thanks to a God that was and is present in all times.
Recently I was honored to be part of the list of 150 influential residents of our county. I was both surprised and humbled to be named in a list where many that I admire were not mentioned. That’s the problem with making a list of almost anything. There were simply too many to name and not enough room to include them all. It is the blessing of the role I have been privileged to fill that placed me among them, and I am impressed that the Chamber took on such a task, and grateful to be included. There was a most amazing person on that list. I hope everyone noticed. The last name on the list was “you”. You are a most influential person! The influence you express everyday through your family, your neighbors, your friends and your community is the difference we enjoy every day in the Carson Valley. You hold the memory of our heritage and the hope of our future. Please remember how precious each and every “you” are as your family gathers this week to give thanks for all our many blessings. “For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.”
Pastor Pete Nelson of Carson Valley United Methodist Church is a member of Carson Valley Ministers’ Association.