There are so many things I love about the autumn. The beautiful colours of the trees; the hardy winter birds like the cedar waxwings, the juncos, the black-capped chickadees and the northern cardinal; the cooler weather and settling into the after-summer routine. That might explain, to some degree, why, of all the long-weekend celebrations we share over the year, I enjoy Thanksgiving the most. There is just something about a holiday that is celebrated with a gathering of family and friends to share a meal and to express gratitude for the abundant life and provision that God gives us.
Scripture tells us in many different places, that we are to give thanks all the time. In his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul tells his readers “In everything give thanks” (1 Thess 5:18). In Psalm 100, the psalmist writes: “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, bless his name. For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.” (Ps. 100:4-5) And in Ephesians 5:20 we read that we are to give “thanks to the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” We are advised to give thanks throughout scripture, both in the Old and the New Testaments.
And it seems to be good advice. A sense of gratitude throughout one’s life is good for us. Study after study seems to confirm that gratitude and happiness are strongly associated. People who feel gratitude for their lives and for those with whom they share their lives, tend to be happier. A grateful attitude helps us, it seems, to be more positive, to lower anxiety and to build strong relationships.
At Thanksgiving, I am reminded of the beautiful prayer of General Thanksgiving that is part of the service of Morning Prayer in the Book of Common Prayer. In that prayer we say “We bless thee for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all for thine inestimable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ. For the means of grace, and the hope of glory.” (p.15) God gives us everything, even redemption through his Son, because of his great love for us and for all creation. This prayer expresses so very well our gratitude for all we have to be truly thankful for.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
The Book of Common Prayer. 1962. The General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada.