On giving thanks in an integrated way

Just now, while getting the baby to sleep, I happened upon a Thanksgiving post from a blogger that I like. With the unpopular-sounding title “The Call to Mourn on Thanksgiving.”

She makes a point that is unpleasant. My first reaction was, “Oh geez…I don’t want to read that. It sounds like a downer.” I still read it, though, because I don’t want to go through life with my eyes closed.

The thing is, I struggle to walk the line between keeping my awareness and losing my joy. It seems incredibly garish to put on a celebration with no thought at all toward where our food came from or how it was raised, who made all the decorations we spend our money on and put up once a year, or where all the disposables will go once we throw them “away.”  I have been in churches with people I respect in many other ways who roll their eyes and say, “I just try not to think about it” at the mention of free-range or vegetarian alternatives (not from me…I have long since learned not to bring up certain topics in certain types of mixed company…no sense arguing about things other people don’t care about at all and aren’t willing to change their opinions about, and I don’t want to be “that girl” unless some fruit is going to come of it).

So I get where angry hippies (or so we might be called behind our backs) are coming from.

The thing is, I think there is more to living the life of Jesus in the world than just being outraged by things that are wrong. At a wedding one time Jesus’ mom said to him, “They’re out of wine. Do something.” He didn’t give a sermon on drunkenness. He didn’t even call them irresponsible for drinking so much wine when other people didn’t have anything to eat or drink at all. It doesn’t mean that those things weren’t true. Another time he told people who were fasting to get up, wash their face and go on about their life instead of making a big dramatic show about it. Not every moment is the right moment for speaking out the truth, and God is the only one who can really know for sure when we are lovingly sowing seeds that will result in actual change  or casting our pearls before pigs. He will tell us, if we will just listen.

If we know we are doing our best to be obedient to that prompting, then we can trust also that we are not responsible for people’s reactions. If we take “speaking the truth in love” as a license to be a jerk and speak our minds as we please, then we are entirely responsible for the consequences. I wish I had learned this lesson much earlier in life. It would have saved me lots of apologies and relationships over the years.

Some Bible verses we are thinking on this week:

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of Jesus*, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

*There is this movie that I didn’t like very much that had this one really great scene wherein Queen Elizabeth finds out that someone has been going around doing all sorts of inappropriate things “in the name of the Queen.” She catches him at it and says, “Young man, have a care with my name, else you will wear it out.”

Doing something in someone’s name means that you think before you do things about whether they would be happy about it.


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