National days of Thanksgiving happen for better or worse. Unless we stand together in gratefulness for a shared harvest— or unless our prayers are childlike enough to not stir up adult issues, our family and political differences can overcook more than the turkey.
Thanksgiving Holidays seem to have the unintended result of reminding us of painful comparisons.
Even our wake-up calls, since last getting together are different: For some it was bad news that alerted us to life’s unfairness. For others it was—an unexpected kindness, or a shared laugh that, for the moment at least, let us think that maybe it is better to have lived than to have never lived at all. If we can’t choose the cards we’re dealt, we’d might as well focus on how we play the game— to do the best we can with whatever we’ve been given.
So without a thought, even on a National Harvest Holiday, some of us just keep breathing in… and out… of a life we didn’t ask for and that science cannot explain. Or… maybe we really do take the occasion to—thank the God of the harvest for a wonderful expression of his care for us.
And maybe when we are by ourselves, either now or later, this might be a good time for us to weigh what Jesus said about the cycle of planting and harvest. In anticipation of another National Harvest Holiday, (the spring barley harvest and Passover) he said that unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground, and dies, it remains alone. Even though he said this in anticipation of his own death and burial, he seemed to imply that there is a principle here for us as well (John 12:23-26).
Even ungratefulness— wrapped in bitter self-interest— can be like a seed that, when planted in the ground with Christ—grows into a harvest of thanksgiving for… :-)