So indeed... this weekend is for us (in Canada) THANKSGIVING weekend. And depending on who you are this means a trip back to Grandma’s house.. kids coming home.. big meals of turkey, stuffing, mash potatoes, gravy, pumpkin pie.. etc., etc., etc., all spread out around the big family table (or..
loaded up & taken out to the field if that harvest we are supposed to be celebrating isn’t quite finished yet?!?!).
As I wrote that last line, I actually found myself wondering how many of us even still connect agriculture & the harvest with Thanksgiving anymore!?! For me.. even as a city kid growing up in Regina, my family did still have enough of a link to the farm that it was still a big part of what we thought about & were grateful for as we dug into our big feast. But as I said.. I wonder how many of us (esp. our younger folks) still have much of a sense of being grateful for a “harvest home” anymore.. how many of us have much of a sense of the tight rope walk of faith that is planting & praying.. hoping & fearing.. bountiful harvest/challenging-low-yields.. that is the life of a farm family??? I think it might have been in that famous Paul Harvey reading (yes I know that dates me) about “Thank a Farmer”.. where it is said that few vocations are as intimately dependant on the fickleness of the seasons AND having a faith in things beyond our human control as does farming. Which is why, when that harvest is finally “in the bin” – big or small – there is much to be thankful for. (Maybe this year as the troubles in the Ukraine make our Canadian harvest that much more crucial to feeding the world.. we might actually be a little bit more aware of that than usual?!?)
The thing about Thanksgiving though.. about real, true, gratitude.. is that it needs to be more than just a quick, little-considered word. While saying “thank you” is often one of the first things we are taught to do by our parents.. honestly it can sometimes become little more than an automated response (Pavlovian almost). True thanksgiving though, I (& I would bet God as well) would hope is more than that.. more than a throw-away-thought/word. True thanksgiving.. I (& I would bet God as well).. think.. needs to be something that actually reflects our hearts.. reflects the deep sense of privilege/gift/grace we feel for what we have been given/experienced. It needs to be something that not only “says” thank you but so too puts our gratitude INTO ACTION. The questions being.. forever.. “What do I do to show that I value what I am & have been given???” “What can I do or live that takes what I feel in my heart & makes it tangible for others to see.. that reflects how I feel about the grace that is my life??”
It is an old & maybe over-used play on words to take the phrase “Thanksgiving” and remind you that it is really two words smushed together – “Thanks” & “giving”. But it does make a point... challenges us to think about what we might “give” of ourselves to help our “thankfulness” take on flesh & tangibility.
In past years.. we have encouraged folks to bring a non-perishable food item to church on Thanksgiving Sunday and place it up front as part of our display. We will then take those things that you “GIVE” and gather them up for the Regina Food Bank. While I didn’t quite remember to put this call in the announcements over the last few weeks, I think we should continue this tradition!!! So if you are coming Sunday please remember to bring something with you. It is, of course, a small thing but it is active.. & again a bunch of small things can snow ball into a big thing!
And so this weekend let us not only think about &/or just “say” Thanks” but let us also remember to “give Thanks”. Let us take that sense of being blessed & let it stir us to be a blessing. Let us let gratitude move us to joyful lives of grace & shared care.
Happy Thanks-giving All!!!!!!!!! Be well, be safe, BE HOPE!
- Pastor Stewart, Oct 6/22
If you need help thinking of what to bring Sunday, the Food Bank web site often has updated suggestions.