Reflections: Dedicate yourselves to thankfulness


In Colossians 3:15, Saint Paul urges us to actually “dedicate” ourselves to thankfulness.

On this week in which most of us gather with family and friends to enjoy turkey and all the trimmings, or whatever food is our family’s tradition for thanksgiving, it may be valuable to ponder these words of Paul.

On this holiday weekend, millions of us will watch some football, or even play some, and may even find ourselves scurrying off to the shopping malls in the dark of the night to chase the wily bargain.

In the midst of all this, it might be well to take some time to carry out the original purpose of the celebration, that is, to give thanks! In a Scripture reading often used on Thanksgiving Day, from the Gospel of Luke, Jesus heals 10 lepers, but only one returns to give thanks for this wonderful miracle.

Though many have speculated as to the reason the other nine did not return to give thanks, we need to take care not to be counted among those ungrateful nine. It strikes me that there are several steps in being thankful. The first is rather obvious: that we take some time to actually count our blessings.

Though it’s often easier to grump and complain about our troubles, large or small, this day is definitely one for counting the particular blessings that fall to us. A time of open sharing about the particular blessings that each of us have could be a beautiful part of a family thanksgiving gathering.

The second step in thankfulness is to recognize the source of these blessings. For a believer in God, it is easy to see God as the ultimate source of our blessings, but we believe God often uses human instruments such as our parents, family and friends, to bestow those blessings on us. The next step in thankfulness is to consciously thank those (including God) who have given us the blessings we have.

The final step in thanksgiving is to reflect on how I might use the blessings that have been given to me. Christians often call this “stewardship,” recognizing our obligation to use our blessings and talents to help others and to make this world a better place. So, as you enjoy the festivities of Thanksgiving, remember to develop “an attitude of gratitude.”