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The eve of Thanksgiving. Some have been planning and preparing for tomorrow for weeks. And yet, I wonder how thankful I could be if, like many of our folks connected with Roberts Park, I woke up in a homeless shelter with no job, little or no education, and no idea where my next meal would come from? I wonder how thankful I could be if a hurricane, or an earthquake, or a forest fire, in the briefest of moments, wiped out my livelihood, my home, and perhaps even members of my family? I wonder how thankful I could be if I knew that today, thousands of miles away in a foreign land that my loved ones would be without me and me without them as they serve this country or perhaps are family members too ill or too frail to travel. It is when we are without that we miss most often that which we so quickly take for granted. How many days since the last Thanksgiving did any of us, upon arising from sleep, utter as our first spoken words: “Thank you, God.”? 

I have come to think of Thanksgiving as a moment that clearly puts life into perspective. In the Gospel chosen for this occasion, Jesus asks us all, in the form of a parable, to reflect on a fundamental question: What would happen if this very night, your life should be required of you? [Lk 12:19] At Thanksgiving, I look at my life, and I see how very fortunate I am. And on Thanksgiving, I look at so many other situations, and I understand how lucky I am. Some of us may rightly think of ourselves as quite blessed this Thanksgiving. And yet… Some of us have lost something or someone most precious that perhaps we took for granted as a blessing, assuming that we would surely be grateful again this year. Next year at this time, we may regret our distractions, our pettiness, and our wasted opportunities of treasuring a blessed moment that is will be with us no more. 

An unknown author helps us to remember and be thankful today and tomorrow and the days to come for the teenager who is complaining about doing the dishes because that says he or she is at home and not on the streets. The taxes I pay because it means that I am employed. The clothes that fit a little too snug because it says I have more than enough to eat. A lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning, and gutters that need fixing because it means I have a home. The space I find at the far end of the parking lot because it says I am capable of walking. My huge heating bill because it means I am warm. Weariness and aching muscles at the end of the day because it says I have been productive. The alarm that goes off in the early morning hour because it means that God has given me another day of life. So, when we gather around our Thanksgiving tables tomorrow, laden with turkey and trimmings, perhaps we may sit for a moment, with a smile on the brink of tears, knowing that we are safe and content when so many cannot be. And when that necessary moment passes, we should do well to ponder “how rich we are in the sight of God,” for we have hope, not fear; we have freedom, not oppression; we have the opportunity, not despair. This Thanksgiving, let us become more deeply aware that God can awaken within us a new perspective on the lives we lead. It is around the Communion Table where we are gathered as one people— a rich diversity of language, culture, and heritage— yet sharing a common unity in Christ, giving thanks to His Father for all that we are and all that we have been given.Have a very happy and blessed Thanksgiving.