In a lengthy description of unrighteousness in the first chapter of the Book of Romans, Paul expresses the ways God judges people. When you read verse 21, a phrase immediately strikes you: “neither were thankful.” Most of us can read the other list of sinful behavior and recognize that we are included. Very few of our confessions include not being thankful under our list of sins.

This week when we celebrate Thanksgiving Day, we may have time to rectify that judgment about our behavior. But many of us will miss this opportunity. When we share our feasts of turkey and all the trimmings, we may pause briefly to be grateful for the food. But isn’t there more for which we can be grateful on this uniquely American holiday? Let me suggest some considerations.

When the first pilgrims offered thanks for their food, they did so as they realized that only about 50 percent of the settlers had survived the harsh winter and the tremendous task of carving out a place to live in their new land. Some of them may have also included their new neighbor native Indians to share their meal. As we continue to battle the coronavirus pandemic, we also need to remember those who did not survive this brutal disease. Many continue to live in fear of contracting this disease as well as spreading it, albeit unintentionally, to someone else.

While gratitude should be our response to thanksgiving in 2021, many of us will still be living in a state of fear. When Winston Churchill said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself,” he no doubt offered some hope to the Brits who had survived the Nazi attacks. Yet that truth still causes anxiety in our modern world. Many of our assurances from government leaders cause more worry than reassurance. If you feel a sense of confidence at this season of the year, then you may want to begin your celebration with a new feeling of reassurance.

When one travels overseas, it is apparent that many countries may try to honor Americans with a Thanksgiving meal but few will fully understand the meaning of our holiday. Among those who will be grateful, there are older citizens of France who will remind others of the sacrifices Americans made to defeat the enemies of peace in World War II and other battles for freedom led by American soldiers. Many of those young heroes are buried in foreign graves marked only by rows of white crosses. Thinking back over last week’s celebrations of Veterans Day, all of us could breathe a prayer of gratitude for such sacrifices which allow us the freedom will enjoy on Thanksgiving.

No doubt the most important way we can be grateful is to live out our thanksgiving in service to others. Assisting in serving meals like those which will be delivered from Canton First United Methodist Church and many other food distributions will provide one opportunity for “thanks living.” Sharing your thanksgiving meal with a friend or someone who may not be as blessed is another opportunity.

We can easily include robbery, rape, murder, even selfishness and greed in our list of sins, but God lists “ungratefulness.” May He forgive us that we fail to be grateful – for ALL He has done for us!

Dr. James E. Kilgore retired as President of the International Family Foundation and lives in Canton. His most recent book, “Living Without Limits,” was published in late 2019 and is available at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

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