Spiritual Life

Pastor's Perspective: Exploring the meaning of Thanksgiving

By the Rev. David Moore

 

Thanksgiving is the annual cooking marathon that leads to many of us sitting on a couch and watching football as we loosen our pants just enough to be comfortable. I appreciate Thanksgiving more than I used to when I was younger, and I hope that’s a good thing. As a pastor, I have been thinking about Thanksgiving and what it all means to me and to all of us in this region.

One thing I get from the sweep of Scripture is that life isn’t fair. Jacob was loved and Esau wasn’t. The Israelites were slaves in Egypt for 400 years: not fair. Different kings had different situations to deal with – the rise of other kingdoms, the faith of the people going after other gods: not fair. Paul – who became a Christian saint – began by persecuting Christians: not fair. The disciples, who served God faithfully, were executed for sharing what they had seen and heard about Jesus: not fair.

There are many aspects of our own lives that aren’t fair. It isn’t fair that some people have more talent, more energy, more money and more insight than we do. It isn’t fair that some people come from stable families and others do not. Consequently, it isn’t good to compare ourselves to others, because there are only two possible outcomes. One is that we come out looking better, and we become prideful; and the other is that we come out looking worse, and we get jealous. The problem is that usually we compare ourselves to people who are better off than we are and we can complain to God and to others about how unfair our lives are.

But the biblical model is the exact opposite. If you really need to compare yourself to someone, compare yourself to the least in society, rather than the Bill Gateses or the Mark Zuckerbergs. Compared to the least of these, we are all doing great. We have enough to eat, a roof over our heads, good health care and running water that is safe to drink. We have the ability to read and live in a society governed by laws, rather than the whims of a king or queen. We have cars to drive and schools that are great.

This Thanksgiving, think about these things, how blessed we are, and then seek to help someone have a better Thanksgiving and Christmas, someone who can’t give you anything in return. Because when we compare ourselves to the least of these, we should be overwhelmed with gratitude. That is the right way to celebrate Thanksgiving.

And further, give that gratitude some legs. Buy a turkey for a food bank. Invite someone to Thanksgiving dinner who might be lonely. Contribute to the food drives that come this time of year.

Be grateful, and do something with your gratitude to pass on your blessings to others.

The Rev. David Moore is pastor of Union Presbyterian Church of Los Altos, 858 University Ave. For more information, call 948-4361 or visit unionpc.org.

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