Dear Emmanuel an Grace Family
This mail is the result of some thoughts that have been bouncing around in my head and I’m sharing them with you just because I have felt prompted to do so. This is not part of the church’s programme, this is not going to be an event at the church, this is just an “idea-pebble” that I am throwing into your ponds to see what ripples might result…

For some time I have been thinking about the American and Canadian customs of observing Thanksgiving.
In the USA it is on the fourth Thursday of November…
Bill Hybels commented that the public holiday of Thanksgiving has “institutionalised gratitude” and this has captured my imagination. If I think of the challenges and proliferation of bad news and cynicism in our country, we might benefit greatly from doing something similar on an informal basis.

The basic thought around Thanksgiving is that it originated as a Harvest Festival / Celebration of safe travelling. It centres around a meal that is eaten in a celebratory awareness of and gratitude for God’s providence and bounty in our lives. In the States there are all sorts of traditions: Roast Turkey, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, roast potatoes, sweetcorn etc. But I think the more important menu items are a deep sense of thankfulness, togetherness with loved ones, laughter and warmth.

I wonder if it isn’t time we make an effort to “institutionalise” gratitude in our setting!
So here’s my suggestion:
Set aside the evening of Thu 22 Nov for a Thanksgiving Dinner:
– Arrange a special meal (Braai, roast, turkey – doesn’t matter)
– Make an effort in the setting up – play some good music in the background, decorate, dress up
– Invite folk to share in the meal with you – doesn’t have to be family
– Explain in the invitation and at the outset of the meal that this meal is a celebration of God’s goodness
– Invite the people around the table to share ways in which God has been good to them.
– Write down a special “grace prayer” and have one person or everyone read it together.

The bottom line is a celebration of thankfulness and I think for those of us with kids this is particularly important. I am aware that this is a “school night” and I have some thoughts about another date in future (see below) but for now, let’s go with what we have.

So here’s the challenge: Put together a thanksgiving celebration
– You can have it as immediate family (and let it be an intimate celebration of God’s goodness)
– or you can throw the net wider to include friends or family
The important thing is that it is not just “another Sunday lunch”, it is about giving thanks.

In our context it might be better to have a “Thanksgiving” in June/July and I would love to hear people’s thoughts on that, but seeing as the year is almost over, let’s just go with the traditional USA date and if folk find it meaningful, go with a winter date next year.

So there it is:
“Splash!” an idea pebble in your thought-pond.
There is so much that God has blessed us with – it is “good to give thanks to the Lord” (Psalm92:1)
I’d love to know what you think!

God bless!

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