DSCF7639bHere in Bonaire, it’s hard to remember that it’s Thanksgiving Day. First of all, it’s 86 degrees outside, so you go inside to cool off, not to warm up. There’s no aroma of firewood smoke and fall foliage. And, of course, here in Bonaire, there’s no holiday. The one reminder is the sudden appearance of Christmas decorations all over town and here in the church. Of course, the biggest difference is that I’m not enjoying the day and the feast with the family, though I have to say that the weather/travel situation that’s going on in the States makes me thankful to be where I am. Captain Don hosts a Thanksgiving dinner at his Rum Runners Restaurant for us ex-pat Americans. I’ll let you know, but somehow I don’t think it’s going to measure up to Mom’s.

The word “thanksgiving” in the Bible is a translation of the Greek word eucharistia, which is formed from the word charis meaning gift or grace. To be thankful is to be full of grace and to express that fulness to the gift-giver. How appropriate that one of the primary names of the communion service is the Eucharist–the thanksgiving. It strikes me that all there is to the Christian life is the grateful enjoyment of God’s grace toward us in Christ.

But there’s more to it than simply saying the words “Thank you.” Imagine if you bought your kid a bicycle for Christmas, and he said, “Thanks for the bicycle,” but never rode the bicycle. You might wonder about the sincerity of his thankfulness. If you saw him screaming around the neighborhood on his new bike on a daily basis, that’s when you’d really feel thanked. If we say thank you to God, but don’t actively enjoy his gifts, they are unridden bicycles and our thanksgiving is simple hypocrisy. As John Piper always says, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.”

Another thing I’ve noticed lately is how gratitude is getting depersonalized. To many, it is an attitude that one has entirely within oneself–more about what I’m thankful for than about who I’m thankful to. It’s about simply being glad to have something. Thanksgiving is really nothing more than stop-and-smell-the-roses Day. I don’t know, do we really need a national holiday to remember to be happy about the good stuff we’ve gotten recently? We need to remind ourselves that “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.” We don’t just get blessings, God gives them. And of course, the best and most perfect gift of all is the Son of God himself, our Lord and Savior, Friend and Intercessor, Jesus Christ. This thanksgiving, don’t just be thankful, thank someone.

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