Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

This Thanksgiving, Are You Listening, Lord?

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

This Thanksgiving, Are You Listening, Lord?

Article excerpt

After a glance at the headline of this essay, you may have:

1) shaken your head (in disbelief or puzzlement);

2) rolled your eyes;

3) muttered (maybe) something under your breath that this publication would not normally print;

4) All of the above.

"What's he talking about? It's Thanksgiving. Of course, God is listening. It's part of the drill. We pray to the Lord on Thanksgiving, and then we have our meal."

I am thinking of a scene in the old play, "You Can't Take It With You." As the Sycamore family gathers for the evening meal – a motley crew of blood relatives and assorted misfits – the family patriarch, Grandpa Vanderhof, thanks God for all that has happened during the day. He ends the prayer with "We have our health, and whatever else, we leave that up to You."

Thanksgiving may be one of the few times all year when many of us gather as family and friends. We say grace and we thank God for the good things He has given us. However, in our very hectic and increasingly secular society, does it seem that we lose the focus of the "giving" part of Thanksgiving.

Yes, we gather at Thanksgiving, in large or small groups, with family or friends. What draws us? Food? The close camaraderie that stretches through the food, Macy's parade and as much football as we can endure?

Unlike our northern neighbors, who celebrate Thanksgiving in October, Americans remember the mythical origins of our version of the holiday. Historians say that the first Thanksgiving feast lasted for three days. In attendance were some 90 Native Americans and 53 Pilgrims who, it bears remembering, were recent immigrants to this land. (Imagine if there had been a wall back then.) The religious character of the feast was unmistakable, since everyone at the table thanked God first for survival as well as the modest dose of prosperity that they enjoyed. As they took their seats, the struggle of the past year echoed in their hearts, especially the faces that were not there – the friends and fellow travelers to their new home, their hoped-for land of opportunity and freedom, who had not survived that first year.

The toils, travail and threats were finally invitations to recognize the gifts, and the harvest carried them to gratitude. …

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