Here’s what the Book of Common Prayer says on page 836: “Give us the gift of your Spirit, that we may know Christ and make him known; and through him, at all times and in all places, we may give thanks to you in all things. Amen”
It’s the last line which matters. My tendency is to focus on my blessings for Thanksgiving, and I define those by my own personal criteria. I think about what I define as the good moments in the past year and I try to block out the mess in Washington. While this is better than spending all day on Thanksgiving complaining about what is wrong, it’s still short of the mark.
We give thanks we are alive. We give thanks that the Lord loves us for no good reason except he is the Lord. We give thanks that grace is imbedded in each moment of our days and we give thanks that even as the news gets bleaker and our trust in our political leaders diminishes, we trust that God is working God’s purpose out.
In addition, there are two practical reasons for gratitude. At sixty-seven I realize I can’t take the future for granted and I don’t want to spend my time imbittered or angry or disillusioned. Why should I focus on our politicians when I could be focused on the movement of the Holy Spirit in the world and in me? This isn’t about being in a cocoon; it’s about keeping a perspective. My allegiance is to God and therefore that’s where my attention ought to be as well. Politics are what they are, but God is God.
Second, I have learned from Joanna Macy (author of Radical Hope) that great acts begin with gratitude. If we focus on what’s wrong, it’s hard to get our imagination going for what could be and should be. When we are filled with Thanksgiving, we remember that the horizon of what God wants is so much bigger than the present moment and then we can take some steps towards that.
So tomorrow I am going to try saying “Thank you. Thank you for all of it. Because God is in it and even when I can’t see that it’s good; it’s good.”