Unconditional Gratitude

It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and sing praises to Your name, O Most High. (Psalm 92:1)

As you are reading this, it is the day after Thanksgiving. It is the day after we pause from the daily grind to share in food, family, and gratitude. This holiday season does not just look different, it feels different. No matter your stance on politics, pandemics, or the economy, there are shared underlying themes in all our lives – unrest, division, separation and the unknown.

This might be the first Thanksgiving some families have spent a part. Some people may have had no choice but to travel. There are decisions, and circumstances that each of us are placed with. Many families made the careful decision to not see in-laws, grandparents, and extended family and friends this season. How did it impact this holiday that is meant to be shared?

Thanksgiving is about being grateful. Sometimes we become so focused on the small picture, that we forget to step back and examine the bigger one. If you have family that are safe, healthy, and well – that is the ultimate blessing. Being able to purchase a delicious meal, whether it be the ingredients to cook or picking up a meal from a restaurant. Having a home. Using technology to connect with friends and family. When did gratitude become conditional? We can only feel grateful if we have things a certain way, or with certain people? Now more than ever, we need to take stock in the fundamentals: life, health, food, home.

Let us focus our gratitude and be mindful about it. As you wrap up Thanksgiving, and make preparations for Advent, be sure to give thanks to the Lord. This might not be the 2020 we thought it was going to be, but we are here. We were given the blessing of another day; another chance to see a sunrise, a chance to connect in new ways. If your table looked small this year and there were not as many faces present, remember to look beyond the empty seats. Do not allow the things lacking to steal your attention from the abundance the Lord provides. Life is a blessing, and as we shift into the first Sunday of Advent this weekend, let us open our hearts to hope and what may await us in the coming weeks.

Prayer Focus:
For those struggling with loneliness and separation from loved ones

Dear Lord, thank you for all that you provide and for the enduring presence of your love. May we never forget the blessings and abundance you have bestowed upon us, even in times that feel harder to see. Allow us to praise your name, and to not allow our gratitude to be conditional. For all that you are, and all that you give, Amen.

 Family Activities:

Create a Thankful Tree: As we prepare for Advent and Christmas, and families put their Christmas Tree’s up, set aside some extra candy canes, or baubles. During the season of advent, anytime someone in your family has a reason to be thankful, add a candy cane to the tree; or, write what they are thankful for on a bauble and hang it on the tree. This will be a visual reminder of all the blessings in your life.

Start an Advent Journal: As a family, create a journal that will span over the entire season of Advent. Each night spend a few minutes writing down things you are feeling, things you are thankful for, or just a recap of what your day was. This can be open ended, or you can tie it in with the weekly messages of Advent, writing about your hopes, joy, love, and peace.