I know a woman who will be spending Thanksgiving alone this year. It is not because she is without family or friends who would save her a seat at their tables. She has to work. Even as the majority of folks in our nation are sitting down for a leisurely feast, the world keeps spinning. A lot of work goes into making Thanksgiving a success, and only some of it happens in the kitchen.
Sometimes, giving thanks at this yearly feast can be a bit abstract. Families go around the table and give general words of gratitude. We state the obvious fact that we’re grateful for family and friends and thank the cooks and God for the food before digging into those marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes.
Do you know where the food in your Thanksgiving feast is coming from? I don’t mean which store the stuffing mix was bought at or which of your relatives is bringing the pie. I mean the potatoes and the green beans. Who was the farmer who cultivated the cranberries or tended the turkeys? Over the years we have sugar-coated the story of the first Thanksgiving, but one fact that has not been lost is who provided the food for whom. When the immigrants from Europe gave thanks, it was for the native farmers who fed them.
Every thing we have comes first from God. And unless you are expecting a turkey to ring your doorbell Thursday morning and casually crawl into your oven, every thing we have also comes through the stewardship of God’s people. Someone painted the china and wove the tablecloth. There will be attendants at the gas station while you journey to your family.
God does not demand our gratitude for the good things we have. You won’t suddenly lose your freedom if you fail to give thanks. But, we make the world a more open and peaceful place when we acknowledge the gifts God gives us as well as the people who work behind the scenes. From farmers and store clerks to utility workers and machinists, there are countless people who deserve our gratitude as much as anyone this Thanksgiving.
Let us not forget the unseen hands of our neighbors who make our food enjoyable and keep the world in motion. Let us think beyond the table to all those who may not be present, but whose lives have given us so many reasons to give thanks.
Pastor Chad McKenna