Thanksgiving - US

Fr. Tony Kadavil:

SYNOPSIS OF THANKSGIVING DAY HOMILY

Introduction: Today is a day of national thanksgiving 1) for the blessings and protection God has given us. 2) for our  democratic government and the prosperity we enjoy 3) for our freedom of speech and religion 4) for the generosity and good will of our people.

History: The winter of 1610 at Jamestown, Virginia, had reduced a group of 409 settlers to 60. The survivors prayed for help, without knowing when or how it might come. When help arrived in the form of a ship filled with food and supplies from England, a thanksgiving prayer meeting was held to give thanks to God. President Abraham Lincoln, in the midst of the Civil War, established Thanksgiving Day as a formal holiday to express our thanks to God. President George Washington issued the first national Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1789. In 1941 Congress passed the official proclamation declaring that Thanksgiving should be observed as a legal holiday the fourth Thursday of each November.
Biblical examples of thanksgiving: (1) Todays Gospel describes how one of the ten lepers Jesus healed, a Samaritan,  returned to Jesus to express his gratitude while the nine Jewish lepers did not care to thank the healer. Jesus asks the pained question: Where are the others? The episode tells us that even God expects gratitude from us.  (2) In 2 Kings 5: 1-9 Naaman the leper, the chief of the army of the Syrian king, returned to the prophet Elisha to express his thanks for the healing with a gift of 10 talents of silver, 6000 pieces of gold and six Egyptian raiments  as gifts. When Elisha refused the gifts, Naaman asked for permission take home two sacks of the soil of Israel to remember the Lord Who healed him, and he promised to offer sacrifices only to the God of Israel. (3) Jesus example of thanksgiving at the tomb of Lazarus: Thank you Father for hearing my prayer. (4) St. Pauls advice (Eph 5: 20):  Give thanks to God the Father for everything.

The Eucharistic celebration is the most important form of thanksgiving prayer for Catholics. In fact, Eucharist is the Greek word for thanksgiving. In the Holy Mass we offer the sacrifice of Jesus to our Heavenly Father as an act of thanksgiving, and surrender our lives on the altar with repentant hearts, presenting our needs and asking for Gods blessings.

 Life messages: 1) Let us be thankful and let us learn to express our thanks daily. a) To God for His innumerable blessings, providential care and protection and for the unconditional pardon given to us for our daily sins and failures. b) To our parents living and dead for the gift of life and Christian training and the good examples they gave us. c) To our relatives and friends for their loving support and timely help and encouragement. d) To our pastors, teachers, doctors, soldiers, police and government officers for the sincere service they render us. (Fr. Tony)

THANKSGIVING DAY IN THE U.S.     

 ..(Sirach 50: 22-24; I Cor. 1:3-9; Luke 17: 11-19)…… 

Anecdote # 1: Thank you. Mother Teresa told this story in an address to the National Prayer Breakfast in 1994. One evening several of our Sisters went out, and we picked up four people from the street. One of them was in a most terrible condition. So I told the other Sisters, You take care of the other three: I will take care of this one who looks the worst. So I did for the woman everything that my love could do. I cleaned her and put her in bed, and there was such a beautiful smile on her face. She took hold of my hands and said two words in her language, Bengali: Thank you. Then she died. I could not help but examine my conscience. I asked myself, What would I say if I were in her place? My answer was simple. I would have tried to draw a little attention to myself. I would have said, I am hungry, I am dying, I am in pain. But the woman gave me much more; she gave me grateful love, dying with a grateful smile on her face. It means that even those with nothing can give us the gift of thanks. 

# 2: But whose hand? A school teacher asked her first graders to draw a picture of something they were thankful for. She thought of how little these children from poor neighborhoods actually had to be thankful for. She reasoned that most of them would no doubt draw pictures of turkeys on tables with lots of other food. She was surprised with the picture that Douglas handed in. It was the picture of a human hand, poorly drawn. But whose hand? The other children tried to guess. One said it was the hand of God because He brings the food to us. Another said it was the hand of a farmer because he raises and grows the food. Finally, when the others were back at their work, the teacher bent over Douglas desk and asked whose hand it was. "Why, its your hand, teacher," he mumbled. Then she recalled that frequently at recess she had taken Douglas, a scrubby, forlorn child, by the hand. She did it with many of the children and never thought much about it. But Douglas did. You see, she refreshed his spirit and he never forgot it.

# 3: Two lists: Perhaps Daniel Defoe gave us some good advice through his fictional character Robinson Crusoe. The first thing that Crusoe did when he found himself on a deserted island was to make out a list. On one side of the list he wrote down all his problems. On the other side of the list he wrote down all of his blessings. On one side he wrote: I do not have any clothes. On the other side he wrote: But it's warm and I don't really need any. On one side he wrote: All of the provisions were lost. On the other side he wrote: But there's plenty of fresh fruit and water on the island. And on down the list he went. In this fashion he discovered that for every negative aspect about his situation, there was a positive aspect, something to be thankful for. It is easy to find ourselves on an island of despair. Perhaps it is time that we sit down and take an inventory of our blessings.

Introduction:  Thanksgiving is the most uniquely American of all our holidays.  President Abraham Lincoln, in the midst of the Civil War, established Thanksgiving Day as a formal holiday in which we express our thanks to God for the many blessings He has provided.  The first American Thanksgiving didnt occur in 1621 when a group of Pilgrims shared a feast with a group of friendly Indians. The first recorded public Thanksgiving had taken place in Virginia more than 11 years earlier, and it wasnt a feast. The winter of 1610 at Jamestown had reduced a group of 409 settlers to 60. The survivors had prayed for help, without knowing when or how it might come. When help arrived in the form of a ship filled with food and supplies from England, a prayer meeting was held to give communal thanks to God. Thanksgiving is the favorite holiday of many Americans.  It has the simplicity of a family gathering together for a meal.  Why should we be thankful this day?  We must learn to be thankful or we will either become bitter and discouraged or grow arrogant and self-satisfied. 

However, Thanksgiving Day also has a profound religious meaning, because giving thanks is the very heart of our natural and spiritual life.  For us as Catholics, the central act of worship is called the Eucharist, a Greek word for Thanksgiving. In the Mass, we give thanks to God through Jesus, and share a sacred meal in which we acknowledge the fact that everything we have comes from God.  On Thanksgiving Day in many of our rural parishes, people used to bring items such as fruits and grains which were then blessed by the pastor before being taken home. 

Exegesis: There are basically two types of people in our world: the grateful and the ungrateful.  Todays Gospel tells the story of the ten lepers whom Jesus healed.  Only one of them, a Samaritan - a Jew despised and held unclean for being in schism returned to give Him thanks.  The other nine (who were real Jews), apparently considered their healing as something they had a right to, whereas the Samaritan took it as an undeserved gift from God.  This Gospel reminds us that even God desires our gratitude.  "Where are the other nine? Jesus asked with pain.  (Confer also Is 1:3-5.)  That is why St. Paul admonishes us, "Always be thankful" (Col 3:17).  It is a Christian's duty as well as a privilege to be grateful for the blessings of God (Deuteronomy 8:10; Psalm 107:19, 21; Colossians 1:12-14; Philippians 1:3).  "Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good.  His love endures forever" (1 Chronicles 16:34).  (Refer to Psalm 107:1, John 11:41, Eph. 5:20, and Col. 3:17 for Biblical prayers and expressions of thanksgiving.)  

Gathered around the altar celebrating the Eucharist, we find that our expression of thanks becomes part of the great Thanksgiving Prayer of Christ which joins the mighty chorus of all Gods people.  We should give thanks for this parish community in which we gather together.  It is in this community that we meet Christ in the Breaking of the Bread and receive the Sacraments that nourish and strengthen us along the way.  Hence, let us give thanks to the Lord our God. For it is right to give God thanks and praise!

 Life message: 1) Be thankful to God. Let us thank God for giving us the gifts of life and health, for providing for our spiritual and physical needs, for giving us our families and friends, and for offering us the grace of salvation through Jesus, our Lord and Savior.

2) Let us be thankful to our parents and benefactors.  Honoring one's parents is the most basic level of gratitude and that is why we have the fourth commandment: "Honor your father and mother."   Let us also be thankful for the countless good people in our lives, each of whom has brought his or her own special gifts to us and has touched our lives.  Today, let us remember each one prayerfully, with reverence and gratitude. 

1) Do we practice unconditional gratitude? Are we thankful only when we compare our lives with those of others?   Are we thankful only when we compare our standard of living with that of people in very poor countries; or only when we compare our relatively good health to the health of a terminally-ill cancer patient?  Let us remember the Irish proverb: "Once I complained I had no shoes until I saw a man who had no feet." 

Joke of the week 

1) Where are the rotten ones for the pigs? There was once a lady who complained about everything and everybody. Finally, her pastor found something that she couldnt complain about. The ladys crop of potatoes was the finest for miles around. He said to her, For once you must be pleased. Everyone is saying how splendid your potatoes are this year. The lady glared at him and said, They are not so bad, but where are the rotten ones for the pigs?

2) The turkey with a high fever!   When I think of "Turkey Day," I am reminded of the story of the little boy who saw his mother putting a thermometer in the turkey.  He said, "If it is that sick, I don't want any!"   

3) "Christopher hit me!":  It was Thanksgiving Day.  Breakfast was over and the kids were playing in a room full of toys.  Their parents lingered over a second cup of coffee.  In a short while, the parents heard the sound of a brief scuffle.  Then Mary, their three-year-old, burst into the kitchen in tears.  "Mommy! Daddy! Christopher hit me!" she sobbed.  Before either of them could think of a reply, the calm voice of their nine-year-old daughter came from the play room, "It's Thanksgiving Daywe must be thankful.  Thank God, he didn't bite you!!" 

4) "I can chew my food:  It was Thanksgiving season in the nursing home. The small resident population had been gathered around their humble Thanksgiving table, and the director asked each in turn to express one thing for which he or she was thankful. Thanks were expressed for a home in which to stay, families, etc. One little old lady, when her turn came, said, I thank the Lord for two perfectly good teeth left in my mouth, one in my upper jaw and one in my lower jaw.  They match so well that I can chew my food.

SIMPLE THINGS TO BE THANKFUL FOR.

I am thankful for the mess to clean up after a party because it means I am blessed with friends.
I am thankful for the taxes I pay because it means that I am employed.
I am thankful for the clothes that fit a little too snugly because it means I have had enough to eat.
I am thankful for my shadow that watches me work because it means I am out in the sunshine.
I am thankful for a lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning, gutters that need fixing because it means I have a home.
I am thankful for all the complaining I do about the government because it means we have freedom of speech.
I am thankful for the spot I find at the far end of the parking lot because it means I am capable of walking.

I am thankful for my big heating bill because it means I am warm.
I am thankful for the lady behind me in church who sings off-key because it means I can hear.
I am thankful for the piles of laundry and ironing because it means my loved ones are nearby.
I am thankful for weariness and aching muscles at the end of the day because it means I have been productive.
I am thankful for the alarm that goes off early in the morning because it means I am alive.

Let me share my little secret. When I feel that the world is caving in and my tears of hopelessness are just about to fall, I look down at my hands. I stretch my fingers and I start to count ... my blessings. I say to myself, I have 10 fingers ... 1-2-3-4-5 ... I can move all of them. My skin is clear. I can see. I can hear. I can talk. I can walk. I have a family. I have a home. I have friends. I have a job. Not everyone has these. I am a very lucky person. I am whole and I can cope with this minor setback. Try it. In your darkest hour, at the height of a most unfortunate situation, count your blessings by starting with your fingers.
Ruby Bayan-Gagelonia 

Gratitude

Today, upon a bus, I saw a very handsome man,
And wished I were as beautiful.
When suddenly he rose to leave,
I saw him hobble down the aisle.
He had one leg and wore a crutch.
But as he passed, he passed a smile.
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine.
I have two legs; the world is mine.

I stopped to buy some candy,
The lad who sold it had such charm,
I talked with him, he seemed so glad,
If I were late, it'd do no harm.
And as I left, he said to me,
"I thank you, you've been so kind.
It's nice to talk with folks like you.
You see," he said, "I'm blind."
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine.
I have two eyes; the world is mine.

Later while walking down the street,
I saw a child I knew.
He stood and watched the others play,
but he did not know what to do.
I stopped a moment and then I said,
"Why don't you join them dear?"
He looked ahead without a word,
I forgot, he couldn't hear.
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine,
I have two ears; the world is mine.

With feet to take me where I'd go,
With eyes to see the sunset's glow,
With ears to hear what I'd know.
With loving family friends to enjoy life
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine,
I've been blessed indeed, the world is mine.
Thanksgiving Day Prayer

Oh, Heavenly Father,
We thank Thee for food and remember the hungry.
We thank Thee for health and remember the sick.
We thank Thee for friends and remember the friendless.
We thank Thee for freedom and remember the enslaved.
May these remembrances stir us to service,
That Thy gifts to us may be used for others.
Amen


Prayers for Thanksgiving Day 2014

We thank and praise You, our Heavenly Father, for establishing and preserving our nation in freedom, for giving us a rich land in which to dwell, and for providing us with an abundance of the fruits of the earth. In order that we might live in peace and be good stewards of all that You provide, grant us Your grace to recognize Your gifts and to live as good citizens. Give us grace to offer You ourselves as living sacrifices to the glory of Your holy name and the betterment of mankind. Of all Your many blessings, chief among them is the peace we have with You on account of the precious Blood of Jesus Christ shed for us for the full remission of all our sins. We thank You for Your great love in sending Your Son to be our Savior, in calling us out of our rebellion and into fellowship with Him. We give You thanks that You have done this apart from any worthiness in us.

Forgive us for those times when we grow complacent in Your love, not living out our baptismal identity but instead taking Your gifts for granted. As the great day of Christ's return draws ever closer, teach us each day to cling to You, that we may on the Last Day stand eternally before Your throne, giving You our unending thanks and praise; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. 

Thanksgiving Prayers for Thanksgiving Day 2014

Response to priests prayer: We give You thanks, and bless Your holy Name.

 Priest: Let us cry aloud our thanks to the all-blessed Trinity:

P:   For the tender love You show Your whole creation. , We give You thanks,
      and bless Your holy Name.

 P:   For the food we eat, the clothes we wear, and the homes in which we live.

 P:   For our families, for husbands and wives, and especially children with their     
      joy and their trust, for grandparents and grandchildren, for aunts and uncles.

 P:   For the fields and their harvest, for farmers and their labors, for the good earth and all its bounty. 

P:   For our nation and all its people, and for the freedoms we enjoy, especially
      for the freedom to worship You in peace.  

P:   For the sufferings that come upon us and for the reminder they bring of the one thing needful. 

P:   Above all for the Incarnation of our Lord, for His suffering and death, for His glorious Resurrection and Ascension and for the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter.

 P:   For the holy Church, for the divine waters of Baptism, for the comfort of Holy
      Absolution, and for the life-giving Sacrament of the Altar.  

P:   For the Sacred Scriptures, for the holy Law that shows us our sin, and for the
      Holy Gospel that reveals the righteousness of Christ as Your gift to us.  

P:   For these and all Your mercies, mercies beyond number and measure, for all
     of which it is our joy to stand before You and give You thanks.  

 P:  You are indeed blessed and holy and worthy of all honor and praise, O Father Almighty, O only-begotten Son, O Spirit of Holiness. To You alone do we give all glory now and ever and unto the ages of ages!
C:  Amen!
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Greg Anderson, in Living Life on Purpose, tells a story about a man whose wife had left him. He was completely depressed. He had lost faith in himself, in other people, in God he found no joy in living. One rainy morning this man went to a small neighborhood restaurant for breakfast. Although several people were at the diner, no one was speaking to anyone else. Our miserable friend hunched over the counter, stirring his coffee with a spoon.

 

In one of the small booths along the window was a young mother with a little girl. They had just been served their food when the little girl broke the sad silence by almost shouting, "Momma, why don't we say our prayers here?" The waitress who had just served their breakfast turned around and said, "Sure, honey, we pray here. Will you say the prayer for us?" And she turned and looked at the rest of the people in the restaurant and said, "Bow your heads." Surprisingly, one by one, the heads went down. The little girl then bowed her head, folded her hands, and said, "God is great, God is good, and we thank him for our food. Amen."

 

That prayer changed the entire atmosphere. People began to talk with one another. The waitress said, "We should do that every morning."

 

"All of a sudden," said our friend, "my whole frame of mind started to improve. From that little girl's example, I started to thank God for all that I did have and stop majoring in all that I didn't have. I started to be grateful."

 

We all understand and appreciate the importance of gratitude. How it can radically change relationships. In fact, one of the first things we were taught and that we teach our children is to express their gratitude. Someone gives them some candy and we say: "Now what do you say?" And the child learns from an early age the answer "Thank you." And certainly we all know as adults that we appreciate being thanked. Yet, when it comes to giving thanks to our heavenly father, we so often miss the mark.

 

And when it comes to giving our thanks to God, I don't suppose there is any story in the Bible that is so endearing to us, so timelessly appropriate, as the story of Jesus healing the ten lepers. We have all heard the story many times, but like so many Bible stories, we never tire of it.

 

The story begins: "And as he entered a certain village there met him ten lepers, and they stood at a far distance." Don't ever think for a moment that death is the worst thing that can happen to a person. It's not. And the scene this morning is a case in point. These ten men walked the earth. They breathed and ate. They had hopes and fears and aspirations and feelings just like you and me. Yet, there was a tragic sense in which they were already dead. They were walking dead. Leprosy was the most dreaded of all ancient diseases. It ate away at the body and left its victim maimed and disfigured. There was no known cure. In their hopes for a family life, a useful occupation, plans for the future-they were dead men.

 

Their situation was made worse because leprosy was believed to be highly contagious. Actually, we know today that it is not. But tell that to ancient superstition. The scripture made it quite clear that as these lepers approached Jesus they stood at a far distance. Jewish law clearly prescribed that a leper could not get within fifty yards of a clean person. Everywhere these poor men journeyed they heard familiar words yelled out: "Unclean," "Leper." And then some would hurl stones at them to keep them away. Leprosy was a serious public health concern but it was tinged with the religious element of ritual uncleanness. So it was that they not only had to live with their physical handicap, but they were also isolated. They had to live in the hell of loneliness. That can do more to drain a person's energy for living than the most horrible of diseases.

 

But even in the midst of this horrible situation these lepers had something to be thankful for. In their common misery they had banded together. They had found each other. It is interesting to note that one of these ten lepers was a Samaritan. Now a good Jew in that day in time would have no dealings at all with a Samaritan. They looked upon Samaritans as dogs, half-breeds. Yet, in the common misery of their leprosy these men had forgotten that they were Jew and Samaritan and realized only that they were men in need. Some of you might say, well it was a case of misery loves company. Maybe so. But I know that there is power in fellowship, especially the fellowship of people who have a common need. Even lepers found it so. Which, I think, brings us to the point of the story, which is simply this: even in the midst of our problems....

 

1. There is always something to be thankful for.
2. Thanksgiving needs to be expressed.

 

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Members: Please see Deuteronomy 8 for the sermon titled "Gratitude: A Matter of Perspective"

It was the day after Thanksgiving. A woman caught her husband weighing himself on the scale. He was sucking in his stomach.
 
"That won't help you, Fred," the woman said. "You know that, don't you?"
 
"Oh it helps a lot," said Fred. "It's the only way I can see the numbers!"
 
I hope you're ready for Thanksgiving--and not just for the turkey and all the trimmings. Giving thanks is important to a successful life. A growing body of research is indicating that a sense of gratitude is vital if we are to be happy and whole persons. Of course, different people are thankful for different things.
 
One mom was outside one morning shoveling her driveway. She stopped to wave hello to her neighbor. He asked her why her husband wasn't out there helping her with the chore.
 
She explained that one of them had to stay inside to take care of the children, so they drew straws to see who would go out and shovel.
 
"Sorry about your bad luck," the neighbor said.
 
The woman looked up from her shoveling and said, "Don't be sorry. I won!"
 
Those of you who are parents of young children understand.
 
We are thankful for different things. For some men, Thanksgiving is all about football.
 
You remember what Erma Bombeck said about Thanksgiving. She said, "Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes." Then she added, "Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not a coincidence."
 
If I were to choose a text that is probably the classic text for Thanksgiving Day, it would be our Old Testament reading for today from the book of Deuteronomy. Moses is addressing the Children of Israel in the wilderness. They are between the exodus from Egypt and their entrance into the Promised Land. That is the setting in which Moses speaks these words that are just as apropos for you and me as they were for Israel 3000 years ago...


 

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How to Be a Pilgrim

 

The Pilgrims had the courage to act on their commitments, no matter what. Do we?

 

Sociologist Robert Bellah, author of Habits of the Heart, is impressed by the power of religion. He once said, "We should not underestimate the significance of the small group of people who have a new vision of a just and gentle world. The quality of a culture may be changed when two percent of its people have a new vision (and act on it)."

 

Christians make up far more than two percent of our town, far more than two percent of Massachusetts, far more than two percent of Americans. So, why don't we have a greater effect: on issues of the environment, on justice for the needy, on the quality of life on Cape Cod? Could it be we need more courage to act on our commitments? To be a Pilgrim means to stand up for what you believe, no matter what.

 

To be a Pilgrim also means sharing what you have, and turning thanks into giving. The Pilgrim colonists willingly shared all they had. During their first three years, all property was held in common. At one point, they were down to five kernels of corn per day for food. Still, they divided the corn kernels up equally. And, the original group of fifty that survived the first winter shared their limited food with the sixty newcomers who arrived in the spring.

 

One of their finest moments came in 1623, at the first real Thanksgiving. The small colony hosted over ninety Native American braves for three days. There was eating and drinking, wrestling, footraces, and gun and arrow-shooting competitions. It was the Pilgrims' way of saying "Thank you" to God, and to the Native Americans who had helped them survive. To be a Pilgrim means sharing and turning thanks into giving. How thankful and giving are we?

 

Alex A. Gondola, Jr., Holidays Are Holy Days: Sermons for Special Sundays, CSS Publishing Company

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Don't Forget to Say Thank You! 

 
When the great composer Henri Mancini turned sixty-five, his daughter, Felice, composed a little musical birthday card and sang it in tribute to her father.  It goes like this:
 
"Sometimes - not often enough - we reflect upon the good things, and our thoughts always center around those we love.  And I think about those people who mean so much to me; who, for so many years have made me so very happy.  And I think about the times I have forgotten to say, 'Thank You!', and just how much I love them."
 
So, before you rush off to see the priest; that is, before you become absorbed in trying to fulfill all of the expectations others have of you - including the church - take a moment to marvel at the beauty of God's creation and bask in the warmth of God's love, and be grateful.
 
Philip W. McClarty, Don't Forget to Say Thank You!
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For That I Am Especially Thankful

During a harvest festival in India, an old widow arrived at her church with an extraordinarily large offering of rice - far more than the poor woman could be expected to afford. The itinerant pastor of the church did not know the widow well. But he did know that she was very poor and so he asked her if she were making the offering in gratitude for some unusual blessing. "Yes," replied the woman. "My son was sick and I promised a large gift to God if he got well." "And your son has recovered?" asked the pastor. The widow paused. "No," she said. "He died last week. But I know that he is in God's care; for that I am especially thankful."

Traditional
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Talking Turkey - Humor

This morning we want to talk about food. That's a relevant subject for most of us.

The two biggest sellers in any bookstore, according to Andy Rooney, are the cookbooks and the diet books. The cookbooks tell you how to prepare the food and the diet books tell you how not to eat any of it.

Orson Welles once said, "My doctor has advised me to give up those intimate little dinners for four, unless, of course, there are three other people eating with me."

Champion archer Rick McKinney confesses that he regularly eats chocolate chip cookies for breakfast. He refers to "the basic four food groups" as a Big Mac, fries, a shake and a lemon tart. A California scientist has computed that the average human being eats 16 times his or her own weight in an average year, while a horse eats only eight times its weight. This all seems to prove that if you want to lose weight, you should eat like a horse.

A young fellow watched as his dad finished a heavy meal and then loosened his belt. "Look, Mom," he said. "Pop's just moved his decimal point over two places."

King Duncan, Collected Sermons, www.Sermons.com
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The Gratitude Attitude

In A Second Helping of Chicken Soup for the Soul, Rev. John R. Ramsey tells how in one church a certain person provided him with a rose boutonniere for the lapel of his suit every Sunday. At first he really appreciated it but then it sort of became routine. Then one Sunday it became very special.

As he was leaving the Sunday Service a young boy walked up to him and said, "Sir, what are you going to do with your flower?" At first the preacher didn't know what the boy was talking about. When it sank in, he pointed to the rose on his lapel and asked the boy, "Do you mean this?"

The boy said, "Yes, sir. If you're just going to throw it away, I would like it."

The preacher smiled and told him he could have the flower and then casually asked what he was going to do with it. The boy, who was probably no more than 10 years old, looked up at the preacher and said, "Sir, I'm going to give it to my granny. My mother and father divorced last year. I was living with my mother, but she married again, and wanted me to live with my father. I lived with him for a while, but he said I couldn't stay, so he sent me to live with my grandmother. She is so good to me. She cooks for me and takes care of me. She has been so good to me that I wanted to give her that pretty flower for loving me."

When the little boy finished, the preacher could hardly speak. His eyes filled with tears and he knew he had been touched by God. He reached up and unpinned the rose. With the flower in his hand, he looked at the boy and said, "Son, that is the nicest thing that I've ever heard but you can't have this flower because it's not enough. If you'll look in front of the pulpit, you'll see a big bouquet of flowers. Different families buy them for the Church each week. Please take those flowers to your granny because she deserves the very best."

Then the boy made one last statement which Rev. Ramsey said he will always treasure. The boy said, "What a wonderful day! I asked for one flower but got a beautiful bouquet."

That's the thankful spirit. That's the gratitude attitude. And it's that attitude that should guide our giving and our lives. Like that boy's granny, God has blessed us so much. God has been so good to us that giving shouldn't even be a question. It should just flow from us naturally.

John R. Ramsey, Second Helping of Chicken Soup for the Soul. Adapted by Billy D. Strayhorn, "The Gratitude Attitude"


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Now Thank We All Our God
 
You can even be thankful during the most difficult of circumstances in life. It's true! We see an especially inspiring example of a brave and thankful heart in the story behind one of the church's most popular hymns, "Now Thank We All Our God." This particularly hymn was written during the Thirty Years War in Germany, in the early 1600s. Its author was Martin Rinkart, a Lutheran pastor in the town of Eilenburg in Saxony.
 
Now, Eilenburg was a walled city, so it became a haven for refugees seeking safety from the fighting. But soon, the city became too crowded and food was in short supply. Then, a famine hit and a terrible plague and Eilenburg became a giant morgue.
 
In one year alone, Pastor Rinkart conducted funerals for 4,500 people, including his own wife. The war dragged on; the suffering continued. Yet through it all, he never lost courage or faith and even during the darkest days of Eilenburg's agony, he was able to write this hymn:
 
Now thank we all our God,
with hearts and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things hath done,
In whom the world rejoices
 
...[So] keep us in His grace,
and guide us when perplexed,
and free us from all ills,
in this world and the next.
 
Even when he was waist deep in destruction, Pastor Rinkart was able to lift his sights to a higher plane. He kept his mind on God's love when the world was filled with hate. He kept his mind on God's promises of heaven when the earth was a living hell. Can we not do the same - we whose lives are almost trouble-free, compared with the man who wrote that hymn?
 
Whom can you say "thank you" to?
 
Erskine White, Together in Christ



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God's Provision


The words "harvest" and "thanksgiving" are linked together in many cultures. Most who till the soil know that our feeble human efforts do not produce crops; crops require sun and rain and other variables that are beyond our control. The early settlers and the indigenous people they found here also recognized the importance of God's provision for survival. Hundreds of years later, a commemorative meal serves as a reminder for us to thank God for those things necessary for our survival.

Safiyah Fosua 


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Continuing Gratitude 
 
A friend began his ministry at little First Presbyterian Church in Aberdeen, Mississippi.   His first year as pastor he was visited by three men inquiring about one of his members, a widow who lived by herself. Was she getting out? Were her friends in Aberdeen keeping in touch? Was there anything they needed to know? The three men explained the situation, gave him their cards-one lived in New Jersey, another in Oklahoma, the other in California-and he was told to call them if there was anything they could humanly do to make her life happier or easier.
 
These three men arrived each year bearing presents their wives had picked out in the shops of San Francisco and New York. The men had hired a family who mowed the woman's yard, trimmed the bushes, and checked on tree branches and gutters. One of the men prepared the woman's tax returns each year, another contracted repairs on her house or made them himself. Sometimes they helped her shop for a new car. They were meticulous in wanting to check on everything and anticipate every difficulty the woman might face.
 
Each year they visited the President of the Bank of Mississippi in Aberdeen-there was a regular turnover in young bank executives-passed out their cards, explained that he was to notify them of any worldly need this woman might have, and they explained to the Bank President the situation.
 
The situation was this: Sixty years ago the three men had been three soldiers standing on the ground floor of a house in Normandy just a few days after D-Day when a German potato masher grenade came bouncing down the stairs. A fourth soldier, the woman's husband, threw himself on the grenade, absorbing most of its impact. The three men lived because of his death.
 
After the war was over in 1945 the three men began making their way to Aberdeen, Mississippi on a regular basis to make sure that this man's widow would lack for nothing they had within their power to provide for her. They had been doing that for more than twenty-five years when my friend was pastor of First Presbyterian Church.
 
Isn't that a remarkable story? I'll tell you another remarkable thing: there were eighteen soldiers on the first floor of that house in Normandy. All eighteen of them were spared by the action of that one soldier's leaping on a grenade, and after the war was over three of them made their regular pilgrimages to Aberdeen, Mississippi.
 
Three out of eighteen: that's 16 2/3%. How difficult it is to imagine 100% gratitude.
 
What does it take for us to recognize that life is a gift, and the only possible human response is gratitude?
 
Patrick J. Willson, Deep Gratitude


 


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 Have You Taken Inventory Lately?

The renown teacher and author Dr. David McLennon tells a story of his very first job in a small town general store. This was the day before mails and supermarket chains at least it was in his community. At age thirteen he was hired as a handy boy. He would sweep the flour, bag items for customers, put up stock. On one particular Saturday, he recalled., he heard the owner say to one of the clerks "It's that time of the year again, it's time to take inventory." Dr. McLennon Wrote that this was a word that had not yet entered into his vocabulary. When an opportune moment arrived, he went up to the kindly older man and asked, Sir, what is an inventory? Patiently the owner explained that it was a time when you made a list of everything that you had--from groceries on the shelves to wrapping paper and string. Still somewhat puzzled, the young McLennon then asked, Why?

"Well, responded the owner, its easy to forget exactly how much you have each year. Every now and then you have to take an inventory just to see what all you have."

That little story, to me, pretty well sums up what Thanksgiving is all about. It is a time when each of us needs to ask ourselves the question: Have I taken inventory of my life lately? Have I made an effort to count all the things that I do have in life instead of complaining about the things that I don't have. It is a good exercise especially when we are of a mind to brood or whine in self pity. Have you taken inventory lately?

What I am suggesting here is not some shallow "count your blessings" platitude. But from time to time, in a genuine kind of a way, we need to sit down and do some talking to ourselves about all of the gifts and opportunities and challenges that God has given each one of us. Perhaps there is a deep underlying wisdom in the children's poem that says: "Count your blessings one by one, and you might be surprised what the Lord has done."