Archive for November, 2011

Give Thanks

Imagine the surprise.  A young man or woman in desert camouflage and tan boots is moving through the check-out line at the grocery store.  The soldier gets to the front the line.  Items are scanned, but before the soldier can pay he or she is told: “A grateful American has already paid for this.”  This isn’t a hypothetical situation.  This happens week after week in Knoxville, Tennessee.  The gift has been provided by none other than Kelleigh Nelson.  Kelleigh doesn’t do this to get anyone’s attention.  She remains anonymous.  (Okay, she’s been caught in the act a few times.)  Why does she do this?  It’s not because she has extra money and really doesn’t know what to do with it.  She does it because she is grateful. Kelleigh is 62 years old and a grandmother of three.  But, she’s practiced concrete acts of gratitude since she took to heart the words of her own grandfather (who served in the military in WWI).

Her act reminds us that soldiers returning from service rarely receive the recognition they deserve. What she did shows reminds us that gratitude needs to be expressed, at a minimum, in words.  What is better is to go beyond words with actions that express our gratefulness.

The gospel is all about gratitude.  Why? Because when we receive grace, it is always undeserved.  This is the nature of grace.  God loves us freely and not because of anything we have done or any virtue he sees in us. His mercy is a free gift of love.  We also receive God’s grace freely, and his grace teaches us that all of life is a gift. This leaves no room for pride or boasting on our part, only gratitude.  Everything we do in response is just that.  We don’t serve and worship to receive anything from God.  God has already given us all things in Christ.  All we do for God is to thank him.

Anytime I am not grateful, God leads me back to the cross.  Again, I am amazed at God’s love for me, his patience with me, and his faithfulness to me.  I find myself rewinding the tapes of my life.  When I do so, I see so many reasons to be thankful.  That’s what all of us have the chance to do this thanksgiving.  Let this time prompt us to thank God and also to extend our thanks to the others in our lives who have loved and encouraged and supported us along the way.

Happy thanksgiving!