“Give Thanks, Live Life, and Release”*           Anton DeWet

*from the song, Give Thanks, Live Life, and Release, by Public Enemy

Psalm 65 (The Message alt)

When we arrived in the US some people were surprised to learn that Thanksgiving was not celebrated in South Africa. So, just a reminder that Thanksgiving is strictly an American holiday. I know the Canadians try to copy us—but, whatever.

I think it’s a beautiful idea to set aside a day to remember what we are grateful for.

In consumer driven societies we are conditioned to believe that we never have enough. To sell more products millions of dollars are spent trying to convince us that we just have to have this product. We have earned it. We deserve it. We must have it. It’s an idea to keep us wanting more and more.

We will never be able to maintain an attitude of gratitude if we get sucked into this lie.

Melodie Beattie’s words remain a piece of wisdom to consider for one’s life.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more.”

“It turns what we have into enough and more.”

How many lives can be changed forever if only we can break into the “enough and more” attitude.

Each one of us have long lists of “gratitudes” we may not even be aware of. Perhaps this Thanksgiving can become the time we decide intentionally begin living a life of gratitude by embracing the thought that what we have is “enough and more”.

One of the greatest luxuries Henza and I experienced when we moved to this country 26 years ago was the ability to sleep through the night without the fear of waking up with someone pointing a gun at our heads. It was a great luxury to see our children ride off on their bikes to visit friends or take a walk after dark.

Do we take the stability and safety of our community for granted? Please consider adding this to your gratitude list.

The Pew Research Center published data[1] that states that 15% of the world population live on $2 per day or less. That is over 1 billion people.

Nearly 4 ½ billion people live on $2-10 per day. That is nearly 75% of the world’s population.

Our educational system guarantees education to all kids. Its not the same standard of education but if you live in a middle class area we have some of the best education money can buy.

If we have someone to love or someone who loves us, we can add another tick behind our list of reasons to be grateful.

If we have enjoyed pretty good health, let us not take that for granted. Another tick on the list of reasons to be grateful.

Of course, there are people among us whose life has not been moonshine and roses. Amidst our safety and affluence there remains suffering but imagine that suffering without the resources at our disposal.

There is no excuse for us not to embrace a life of gratitude.

And as people of faith, when we acknowledge our blessings we turn to the source of all Love and give thanks to God. This is where we began today—by giving thanks.

In the first 12 verses of Ps 65 the Psalmist glorifies God for the great gifts of life.

And then he offers a prayer;

Oh, visit the earth,
ask her to join the dance!
Deck her out in spring showers,
fill the God-River with living water.
Paint the wheat fields golden.
Creation was made for this!
Drench the plowed fields,
soak the dirt clods
With rainfall as harrow and rake
bring her to blossom and fruit.
Snow-crown the peaks with splendor,
scatter rose petals down your paths,
All through the wild meadows, rose petals.
Set the hills to dancing,
Dress the canyon walls with live sheep,
a drape of flax across the valleys.
Let them shout, and shout, and shout!
Oh, oh, let them sing!

Dear friends, we are a collection of individuals. We do not share the same level of wealth or good health or nurturing relationships or the same sense of fulfillment of life, but we all have a lot to be grateful for.

When we acknowledge this gratitude, what’s next for us? What is the logic result of an acknowledgment of gratitude?

Jesus told us to live in a state of transformation, seeking to grow in our mutual mission to care for God’s creation, especially, the human family.

Gratitude can move us to rethink how we deal with our neighbor and our enemy and the stranger at our borders seeking opportunity and safety.

Gratitude calls us to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s.

Gratitude calls us to soften our hearts and unclench our fists to allow those who have wronged us or who threatens us opportunity to experience the grace of God through us.

Gratitude moves us to pray for each other and prayerfully reach out to those who ask for our help and support.

In the words of the Psalm, may gratitude move us to “join the dance.”

Or, as the song goes;

“Give Thanks, Live Life, and Release”. Amen.

[1] https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/07/09/how-americans-compare-with-the-global-middle-class/ft_15-07-08_gmcglobal_vs_usa/