Three Challenges This Thanksgiving
There is onne obvious challenge we face at Thanksgiving… and two less obvious ones.
1. The increasing polarization around our tables
In our sharply divided country, Jesus seemed to anticipate our Thanksgiving tables perfectly. He spoke of
“a man ‘against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s enemies will be those of his household. ” Mt 10:35
How do we negotiate polarization at so many of our Thanksgiving tables? Some may find something I read this morning helpful.
Here I would like to speak of two less obvious challenges we face regarding Thanksgiving.
2. Our personal short-sightedness – not recognizing challenges as blessings in disguise
We normally associate Thanksgiving with a pause to look back and say thank you, God. But is this a short-sighted approach?
Thousands of years ago Job asked…
“Shall we receive only pleasant things from the hand of God and never anything unpleasant?”Job 2:10
Do we focus only on our obvious blessings? Can we see the blessing in the challenges we face?
Let me get personal. I look back on my life and only now realize that some of my greatest challenges turned out to be my greatest blessings.
- Studying in another country with a different language and culture
- Changes in where I was assigned
- A major automobile accident that was almost fatal
Then I was too close to them and could not recognize the opportunity in the threat or challenge. I am now learning to read my life backward… with a vision into the future.
It is interesting to see how our more creative people value challenges.
- “When one door closes another door opens, but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.” – Alexander Graham Bell
- “We often miss opportunity because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work” ― Thomas A. Edison
- “The pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” — Winston Churchill
The Death and Resurrection of Christ is the ultimate answer to the question of seeing blessings in challenges. It is significant that at the beginning of the Easter Vigil twice we heard this strange outburst:
“Felix culpa “O happy fault, so necessary sin of Adam which gained for us so great a Redeemer!” God can transform sin and death!”
“We know that all things work for good for those who love God.” Roman 8:28
3. Our tendency toward tokenism
We tend to get so caught up in the day that we miss the point that thanksgiving should be our daily attitudes
“Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 16-19
A popular, but little-noticed wisdom says “gratitude is an attitude“. Thanksgiving should be a way of life rather than only a special day. Just as Eucharist calls us to so much more than an hour in church each week.
Questions that challenge us
- Can we try to understand where another is coming from?
- Can we thank God for the challenges that lead to growth and maturity?
- Can we shift from Thanksgiving and Eucharist as specified celebrations to an attitude and way of life?