Thoughts on Thanksgiving

Eating, Running, and Paying It Forward

by Dale Reeves
Story Pastor

 

It’s a known fact. My wife and several other people, including Maggie Buckley, have been watching Hallmark Christmas movies for weeks now. Some people have already put up their Christmas lights, decorations, and, can you believe it—their Christmas trees! I am holding them all responsible for the three inches of white stuff that landed in our backyard this past Monday. And just the day before the winter wonderland, on Sunday the temperature in Mason, Ohio, hit a high of 64°. I missed the opportunity to go golfing that day. Never mind a white Christmas. We almost got a white Halloween.

Somewhere between those two holidays where we celebrate all things pumpkin spice and peppermint mocha is a holiday that sometimes gets pinched in the process—Thanksgiving. But, believe me, the turkeys at Bernard’s Blue Ribbon Turkey Farm know it looms on the horizon. My wife has already been talking with my favorite mother-in-law about how large a bird we will need to get this year. And will it be enough for the army we will feed? It’s the holiday where we wake up smelling savory aromas coming from the kitchen, catch a bit of the Macy’s parade, realize what we forgot to buy at the grocery store, overeat, watch some uninspiring football of the Detroit Lions, take long naps induced by tryptophan and carb-loaded stuffing, check out all the Black Friday ads in the paper and online, then saunter back to the fridge for leftovers or our favorite piece of pie smothered with whipped cream.

For some people, the Thanksgiving tradition includes running in the Western & Southern Thanksgiving Day 10K Race in downtown Cincinnati. Did you know that this is the oldest road race in the Midwest? This year marks the 110th annual race. It began in 1908 and has continued without interruption to the present with only two exceptions: In 1918, World War I intervened; and in 1936, management problems caused the race to miss a year. The first year, 21 men historically took off from the Fort Thomas Central YMCA and 18 of them finished outside the downtown YMCA. This year approximately 10,000 people will run the 6.2 mile course and then feel less guilty about the food they will eat later in the day.

More to This Holiday

Whether you choose to run, walk, play touch football, nap, eat, watch a parade, veg and eat some more during three NFL football games, or plan your after-Thanksgiving shopping strategy, I encourage you to do more. The first formal proclamation of Thanksgiving in America was when President George Washington declared November 26, 1789, as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer. However, we credit Abraham Lincoln for declaring Thanksgiving a federal holiday in 1863—during the American Civil War. He called for a day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficient Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” His declaration had been prompted by a series of editorials written by Sarah Josepha Hale, the author of the nursery rhyme, “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”

Think about that for a moment. Long before women in our country were given the right to vote, this woman was influential in not only writing a nursery rhyme we have all read to our children and grandchildren, she also influenced a president to declare Thanksgiving as a federal holiday. Sarah Hale had written a number of editorials urging Americans to put aside sectional feelings and rally around the unifying cause of giving thanks. Lincoln declared that the federal holiday should take place on the last Thursday of November each year in hopes of helping to “heal the wounds of the nation.”

Pay It Forward

Healing wounds. Sometimes it takes large actions on the part of a number of people for healing to come. Sometimes it takes years of counseling and therapy. And, sometimes wounds are healed simply with a very small thing. An act of kindness, someone who has chosen to bless a stranger’s day, someone who has decided to pay it forward. I ran through McDonald’s for an Egg McMuffin breakfast sandwich a few weeks ago and when I arrived at the window, my meal had already been paid for by someone I didn’t know. What, I could have ordered the Big Breakfast for free?? Contrary to what you might hear in the news from our nation’s Capitol or on social media, good people still exist in the world today!

Some people live to give their total lives in service for others. That’s what Jesus did for us, and that’s just one of the reasons why we give thanks to our Lord and God during this holiday and really should every day. I have a friend named Rick Bundschuh who pastors a church in Kauai, Hawaii. His life mentor was a man named E. G. Von Trutzschler, whom everyone simply called, “Pastor Von.” Von took thousands of high school students to Mexico where their lives were impacted by what they had seen and done there. From the Amazon jungles to the barrios of Tijuana, Von ministered in more than forty countries. And he wrote this life purpose statement before his death:

 

Why I Am Here
by Pastor Von

“I have a rather simple philosophy as to this life. I see my time on earth as very brief and radically different from my future forever life with God. I’m here on earth to do things for God that I can never do for Him in Heaven and I only have a short time left to do them. Here is some of what I can only do on earth that I’ll never be able to do in Heaven.

I can share the Gospel with those who have never heard.

I can teach those who don’t know.

I can light the darkness and give hope to the hopeless.

I can encourage the discouraged and faint hearted.

I can dry the tear of a crying child.

I can love the unlovely, unloved, and unlovable.

I can give someone who is thirsty a cup of cold water.

I can feed those who are hungry, help heal those who are sick, give shelter to those who have none, and give a blanket to those who are cold.

I can even love my enemies and forgive those who violate me.

In Heaven there will be no sin or darkness, no sickness, no hunger, no want or pain, no enemies of any kind—just eternal joy, thanksgiving, praise and worship of almighty God forever. It makes sense to me to do what I can for God while I’m here on earth so my time in eternity will be more of a joy for myself and others.

Here on earth, we only have a few precious moments to accomplish our unique and divine calling. Please excuse me to do the urgent, that which can only be done here and now.”

 

In the midst of this hectic season, be on the lookout to bless others. Surely we bless God when he sees us bless his children in a true spirit of Thanksgiving.

 

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