In one episode of The Simpsons, young Bart sits down with his family to a meal. When it’s his turn to pray and give thanks, he says something like this: “Lord, my dad earned the money to pay for this food and my mom worked for hours to cook it. What did you do? Thanks a lot for nothing.” Bart Simpson is only a cartoon character, but he says what a lot of people are tempted to think.
Yesterday’s celebration of Thanksgiving has become a kind of great divide in our country separating the “haves” from the “have not’s”. For the “haves,” Thanksgiving is the starting gun for lots of Christmas shopping and decorating. Some of the “haves” may head to Florida or to Colorado for the weekend. With enough money you can find sun or snow somewhere.
For the “have not’s,” Thanksgiving marks a new beginning as well. In the “have not” culture, Thanksgiving is the first disappointment of the holiday season. For many it’s a meal served cafeteria-style at a church or mission. The food is nourishing, the spirit is welcoming, but it is surely not the Thanksgiving of anyone’s dreams.
One of the most disappointing things about the “have not” Thanksgiving is there are no leftovers, no leftover goodies, no leftover family members to spend the weekend with, and no leftover feelings of security.
If you are reading this today, you are no doubt one of the “haves.” Jesus went out of his way to remind us of the “have not’s” who are not that far away from us. They are just a few miles away from us in the US and from where I sit in Fort Lauderdale, an hour and a half away in Haiti on a plane.
Every time we feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the sick or the prisoner, it’s the same as doing it for Jesus himself (Matthew 25:31-46).
As Thanksgiving, 2018 passes away, don’t be a turkey. In English, the work “think” and the word “thank” both come from the same root word. Nine of the ten lepers Jesus cured forgot to think and thus forgot to thank God for their blessings. The tenth leper saw his blessings, said thanks for his blessings and then shared his blessings.
I often say to myself: “God has a bigger plan for me than I have for myself.”