Welcome to the Sunday Devotion. We see the effects of fall around us – the crisp air, the leaves changing to beautiful colors, the energetic activity of the squirrels gathering acorns. With these transitions to our autumn season, I find myself nestling into the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, which in turn, turns my thoughts to a mood of thankfulness. I admit the pressure of preparation for Thanksgiving day can interrupt the tranquility of peaceful thankfulness, but in silence and solitude I find my way back to that place where I embrace the people, opportunities and events for which I am truly thankful. Take a deep breath, hold, exhale. Close your eyes if you need to so you can shut out the clutter of the world around you.
Where do your thoughts go when you reach out to embrace thankfulness? I asked my students this question the other day. There were no immediate replies. As I prodded for their answers, a couple students hesitantly voiced a reply. Perhaps I should tell you that these students were adult ESL learners. I had shared some background about Thanksgiving in the United States and encouraged them to tell me if they had holidays in their countries where thankfulness was the focus. They couldn’t identify anything similar. What would we miss in our lives, without this emphasis on being thankful?
Even if we did not have our Thanksgiving holiday, we do have faith connections where we are reminded to be thankful to God for our blessings. Yet sometimes we may feel so much weight of the inequities and suffering in our world that we push aside what we are thankful for. I am not advocating that we turn our eyes and our hearts away from the pain and hate we see in the news. But it is okay to focus on that for which we are thankful. Focusing on positive emotions can affect our mental and physical health. And when you merge it with your faith, it turns your mind and heart to God.
What would you say to God as a thank you? Starting your day with thankfulness can help that positive mood seep into your day. I recently placed a dry erase marker in the bathroom. When I brush my teeth at night, I use that marker to write something for which I am grateful on the bathroom mirror. When I get up in the morning that’s what I see that first thing. It’s a small act but it does start my day in thankfulness. It can be a positive earworm.
Scripture tells us to be "thankful in everything, in all circumstances" (1 Thessalonians 5:18). In embracing gratitude, our actions can become positive actions. We must love one another and be a source of encouragement and hope.
May you all have a blessed Thanksgiving.
Various authors throughout the Chesapeake Bay Mission Center and beyond provide these thought-provoking weekly devotions.