The Awkwardness of Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love it for all kinds of reasons:
- It is the most unsullied religious holiday of the year.
- My baby comes home from college.
- It always lands on the same day of the week thus insuring a predictable, extra-long weekend.
- I like earth tone colored foods and I love leftovers…especially mom’s cherry cream pie.
- The sports aren’t bad.
But maybe my favorite think about this holiday is that it forces our country annually to grapple with the existence of God. The very name of the holiday assumes an object of our thanks. We cannot have “Thanksgiving” unless we concede that there is someone, somewhere, who deserves to be the recipient of our thanks. Those who want to skirt the obvious religious implications will speak about being “grateful.” But it’s still a dodge. Grateful to whom?
In short, I love Thanksgiving because it compels everyone, the religious and the irreligious alike, to grapple with the question, “Why do I enjoy the good things I have in a world with so much less? Why am I embarrassingly blessed in so many ways while the vast majority of the world lives at a subsistence level? Why can I enjoy a peaceful gathering with those I love most while millions live in hiding and horror?”
At its core, Thanksgiving is a theological lesson on grace. It is the closest that we “can-do,” “I did it my way”, Americans come to admitting that everything we have and enjoy is a gift. And gift-givers deserve to be thanked. Especially the Gift-giver.
One more reason I like this holiday is our Thanksgiving Eve service. College kids are back, and the warmth and intimacy of the gathering is a high point for the family-feel of Chapel Hill. I hope you will join me and my family tonight at 7:00 as we declare our gratitude to our gracious God. After all, who are you thanking, anyhow?
P.S. By the way, if you’d like to see the news coverage of our Jubilee Sunday, here’s the link!