(Pastor’s Note: The following first appeared as the Thanksgiving Day devotional in the November-December 2010 issue of The Upper Room. I reprint it here with wishes to all for Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving 2016!)
“Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back; praising God with a loud voice.” Luke 17:15 (NRSV)
One of our treasured keepsakes is a homemade table decoration, a turkey made of feathers, pipe cleaners, construction paper and “googly eyes.” It was created and given to us many Thanksgivings ago by our niece Bethany when she was very young, and it has graced our table during the holidays ever since.
Over time, this turkey has become rather dilapidated, and by any reasonable assessment, should be retired from service! Still, every year, he’s brought out of the cabinet and set on the holiday table; but not so much because of the turkey itself, but rather to honor the one who gave it to us. The love we feel for our niece and the memory of her joy in presenting her gift to us: all of this is more than enough to keep the tradition alive!
We have so much for which to give thanks in our lives that we cannot possibly name them all. But when we pause to acknowledge the giver of all those good gifts, then a real spirit of thanksgiving takes hold of our lives. When we view our many blessings in terms of our relationship with God, then life takes on a true sense of wholeness, and “giving thanks” becomes more than a holiday tradition, but the natural result of living out of the grace of the One who, in infinite love, has given us all we need and more.
Of the ten lepers who were healed by Jesus, only one returned to acknowledge the giver… but that’s the one whose faith made him well. As we come to the Thanksgiving table this year, may we discover the same thing for ourselves.
Dear God, make us truly thankful for all you have given us. Amen.