What is Thanksgiving? For some, it seems, Thanksgiving has become about eating a lot of really good food while watching the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions play every year. And, while food and football are a great way to bond (especially for guys), I hope, and this is what is being birthed into me, that Thanksgiving is the a time when I can take some time to thank others for what I have been given. When Thanksgiving is treated in this way, we enter into the grace that has been given to us. Grace is the state of receiving the gifts and blessings of God and others.
When we take the time to remember all that we have been given, it does several things. One of the things is that it forces you to remember the journey that you have been on. When we are able to remember the steps that we have journeyed, it is always an eye-opening experience. We are able to cherish the ways that we have been carried through our personal history. We are able to give thanks for how we were able to get from back there to where we are now. The recognition of what we have been through, and what we have been given, becomes tied into our identity.
The other thing that might happen is the journey of humility. When we recognize our own personal desperation, then we realize that we are all needy human beings. It is easy to give something to another person, because it is intrinsically tied with a power we have over someone, but when we recognize that we are in need of something, then grace becomes the gift that reshapes our existence. Then grace heals our own impoverished existence. We know that we cannot take another step without the help, the assistance, the gift of another person or God.
Thanksgiving is a great time to celebrate grace. It is a time to remember the words of Julian of Norwich, “First there is the fall, then there is the recovery of the fall. Both are the mercy of God.” When we can receive this framework of life, then all of life becomes grace, and we can give thanks for everything.