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Give thanks to God even after turkey is eaten



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November 25, 2009 - Thanksgiving is increasingly one of my favorite times of the year.

I like it because Thanksgiving really helps me focus on appreciating the simple things of life that mean so much but that we all too often take for granted. Things like time with family, the food on our table, the friends we have, and the many blessings we have received from God even in these very challenging times.

Thanksgiving is a wonderful pause after the hectic pace of a busy fall and the even more hectic pace of the approaching Christmas season. However taking time to really reflect on our lives and God's goodness need not last just a day.

It seems to me that there should be bit of Thanksgiving every day. For me it's a matter of being intentional and taking the time. Pausing long enough to remember that today, just like any other day, has 86,400 seconds in it and to decide to use at least a few of those seconds each day to say "thank you!"

I once read a little story about a grandfather who was asked by his young granddaughter if he had liked the turkey this year a question often asked at our holiday tables. The grandfather responded that he liked the turkey very much and in fact he tries "to have a little turkey every day."

Confused the little girl asked what he meant. He responded that he has a tradition in his life where each day he sets aside some intentional time to say thanks to God. So even though Thanksgiving may be over as you read this I would invite you to join me in "having a little turkey" today and every day or if you don't really like turkey you can substitute ham or fish or green beans or corn or tofu what matters is the reminder that all I have is gift and that there is a giver to thank.

One of the most important ways I try to say thanks to God every day is in my giving to others.

Such "thanks giving" is especially important this year when so many are struggling. It may be something material or it may just be giving a smile or a word of encouragement or an extra dose of patience and love to someone else. May these tough times be marked by the generosity of God's people as we give thanks through our giving to those around us both nearby and around the globe.

Psalm 100 is one of my favorite reminders to give thanks. I hope you will consider putting it on your refrigerator or in your daily planner or taping it to the bathroom mirror that you look into each morning so that these words can be a "little turkey for you every day."

"Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.

"Worship the Lord with gladness; come into his presence with singing.

"Know that the Lord is God. It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

"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." (Psalm 100 NRSV)

The Rev. Jonathan Heierman is pastor of Calvary Evangelical Lutheran Church.

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