Saturday, November 19, 2011

Let's Get Ready to Rumble: The Fight for Thankfulness

Thanksgiving is upon us again and the competition between celebrating gluttony and expressing true thankfulness is in full swing. In the red corner is Hedonism, with a left jab from the food industry and a right uppercut from the consumer industry, both honed with the guidance of the entertainment industry. The promotion team for this powerhouse fills the nodes and circuits of computers and HD TVs with reminders of all the food that must be consumed in honor of this day and all the sales that must be discovered for the latest fad gadget, designer outfit, or pop-star emblazoned knick-knack.

In the blue corner, seeming to struggle from old age and neglect, is Thankfulness. This southpaw from a bygone era seems to be a poor matchup for this bout; one may wonder why he hasn't been entered in the featherweight category when you look at him next to Hedonism. His jab of remembrance is tenacious though and his left hook of gratitude will set your head spinning if it connects.

These two competitors have met in this ring for many a match, and although Hedonism has been winning more decisively in recent years he has yet to get in a knock-out blow. Unfortunately for Thankfulness, his training during the year is less intense than it used to be and is becoming increasingly sporadic altogether. Thankfulness needs constant exercise, otherwise, when it is brought out for its annual title bout, it will quickly succumb to Hedonism, who is on a persistent and constant training program all through the year.

May I suggest that our attempts at being thankful at this time of year are futile when we don't live a lifestyle of thankfulness throughout the rest of the year. The problem is that even our attempts at being thankful quickly become expressions of our hedonism, materialism, and selfish interests. I have found myself, when praying at times, to settle into a mantra of thankfulness that lists the material possessions I have gained, the human accolades I have garnered, or the personal triumphs I have secured. "Thank you for this job, whereby I can provide for my family" may seem like a great prayer, but it is focused on self. "Thank you for the spouse you've given me" may seem selfless and sincere, but how often are you able to pray that prayer after a disagreement or while you're licking your wounded pride.

Thankfulness that is focused solely on self will soon cease to be thankfulness. I urge you this Thanksgiving season to focus your thankfulness on God and what He has done and continues to do not just in your life, but in the life of the community of faith and in the historical development of His world.

Let me suggest the prayer of thankfulness which is prayed as part of the daily morning and evening prayer liturgy in the prayer book:

ALMIGHTY God, Father of all mercies, we, thine unworthy servants, do give thee most humble and hearty thanks for all thy goodness and loving-kindness to us, and to all men. We bless thee for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all, for thine inestimable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. And, we beseech thee, give us that due sense of all thy mercies, that our hearts may he unfeignedly thankful: and that we show forth thy praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives, by giving up our selves to thy service, and by walking before thee in holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, world without end. Amen.


Dan Van Minnen said...

Lord, help me to be thankful for Turkey comas year 'round... :) Seriously though, you are right and real thankfulness is a mental habit that needs all the prep of a boxer.

Timothy Reimer said...

Exactly, and it needs to be focused outside of our own life too. I'm convicted by the General Prayer of Thankfulness that I posted to the end, how the thankfulness that is expressed for the redemption of Christ is for not only what it means to me as an individual but for what it means to the whole world. Would that we always kept the bigger picture in mind instead of being so focused on self.