Jesus is with his friends, sharing a meal: he gives thanks to God for bread and shares it with them; he gives thanks to God for wine and shares it with them. Jesus is surrounded by people who need to be fed: he takes the loaves and fishes, thanks God for them and then has his friends share the food with others. Jesus gives thanks. We as church give thanks. I, as a human being, give thanks as well.
So why give thanks? Why take the time to thank others for what they have done for us, to thank God for what we have been given? Why be thankful?
I regularly turn to this portion of the General Thanksgiving prayer in the Book of Alternative Services (BAS). It reminds me that gratitude is placed squarely in my relationship with God and is made up of all the portions of my life.
“We thank you for setting us tasks
which demand our best efforts,
and for leading us to accomplishments
which satisfy and delight us.
We thank you also for those disappointments and failures
that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone.”
(A portion of the General Thanksgiving prayer, BAS, p. 129)
When my children were small one of the earliest actions I taught them was to say “please,” to get what they needed/wanted and then to say “thank you” when the action was complete. It was a way to build in that they live in community, even a small family community, and that we take care of each other. As they grew older they realized that saying thanks to others outside of their family made it possible for them to show that same level of caring to others.
Each time I gather at a meal, be it with my husband, extended family or with friends, grace is shared. The community that I am gathered with says thanks to God for the food, for those gathered at the table, for the good things that have happened in our day. We offer all those things up to God to remember that it is not just by our hands that our life is the way it is. We are who we are and have the gifts we have because God is part of our lives.
I give thanks to God because of my relationship with God, our creator, our redeemer, our sustainer. I am fed in this relationship by going to regular Sunday worship and sharing the bread and the wine that is offered during eucharist (thanksgiving) week by week. I am fed by the people who gather there who are also giving thanks.
Gratitude has become the foundation for what I do and how I am in the world. Giving thanks reminds me that even when everything seems to be going in the wrong direction, God is still present in my life and is nudging me in the direction of the gospel. Saying thank you to others for their presence in my life and their gifts places my life firmly in God’s community of love and justice for all.
Here is my gratitude list for this particular moment:
- I am grateful that I care about the world that we live in and can see injustice and want to do something about it.
- I am grateful that I live in a wonderful home, have caring friends, an amazing family and good work that calls out the best in me.
- I am grateful that I have opportunities to share my gifts with others in ways that are meaningful for them and for me.
- I am grateful that I am reminded by Jesus’ words in the gospels, by the example of my faith companions, by the goodness I see around me.
Thanks, merci, gracias, migwetch, hi hi, tansi to God for this day and always.