I believe that one of the great spiritual disciplines is giving thanks before a meal. It is an ancient tradition. Israel’s “Shema” gives thanks for bread and the fruit of the vine. Jesus, “took bread, gave thanks, broke it and gave it to his disciples to eat.” And we too, as people of faith, are to take a moment before our meals to acknowledge that we are receiving a gift.
In this week of Thanksgiving, I find myself pondering why taking time to give thanks to God is so important and what I keep coming back to is how it reminds me that I am not in control. When I sit down to eat and I take a moment to say thank you to God, it reminds me that all that I have is a gift, that there is a force that is bigger than me who is in control of the world, and that this is a very good thing.
I have also been thinking about the fact that our country makes a day to give thanks a holiday. To me it isn’t unlike the fact that we put, “In God We Trust” on our money. Those who have gone before us found it vital for our country to take time to thank God, because what we have is a gift. And we are therefore to use those gifts wisely and generously.
It is different from thanking the person who made the meal—though that is important, too. But it is different because it acknowledges that we don’t believe we are alone in this world. And no matter what name you use to call on God, knowing that you are not alone is important.
It keeps you humble. You realize you don’t have to be in charge of everything. It makes you realize that those you eat with have received the same gifts as you have received. It opens your heart to seeing other blessings in your life. And I think in the end it makes you more generous. Because when you know what you have is a gift, you are more likely to want to share that gift with others.
I’m thankful for you and I pray we all remember to give thanks to God on Thanksgiving and every day.