Jean Newell, Associate Pastor at Sun Lakes United Methodist Church

How quickly the days slip by, and before you know it, the celebration is just days, maybe even hours away. Shopping is done, food is prepared, the house is readied and the table is set. The big day finally arrives!

What is it about Thanksgiving that makes it “Thanksgiving”? Is it the food? The fellowship? The football? All three!

What if there was no food? What if there was no one to spend time with? What if there was no football? Hard to imagine, is it not? Maybe so for the majority of us but, for some, that is an all too real reality. Without food, fellowship and football, what is there to be thankful?

The apostle Paul wrote to believers in Philippi saying, “for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty, and of being in need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 3:11b-13)

Paul had learned to be content, to be thankful, whether he had much or little. Could it be true that thankfulness begins not with Aunt Lilly’s pumpkin pie, which teams are battling it out on the gridiron or how many chairs there are around the dining table, but that true thankfulness begins in one’s heart and one’s relationship with God? Truly, such a relationship is acknowledged not on one particular day with one prayer of thanksgiving but is reflective of an ongoing relationship developed throughout our life spending time with God every day of the year.

When a life is lived giving thanks every day to God, then might it be possible to claim Paul’s words as one’s own? To be content with whatever one has? When that happens and Thanksgiving Day arrives, the celebration will be more about hearts filled with thanksgiving for the blessings we have rather than what we have or have not. When that happens, Thanksgiving becomes Thanks-living!