While I don't wish more work upon my pastor, I miss gathering at church for a Thanksgiving Eve service. This is probably mostly out of nostalgia, as it tended to be our small, rural Iowa churches that I have been a part of that held Thanksgiving services. This make sense as these churches are tied to the land, tied to the farmers who receive the fruits of their labors this time of year. There, hopefully, is much to be thankful for.

Part of the Thanksgiving Eve service was bringing forward our gifts for the world missions offering. We had soup cans with specially designed labels that looked like Campbells but said Covenant World Mission. We had been collecting change throughout the year; typically the children brought the change forward, placing the cans in a pile at the front of the church.

Church is a fitting place to be for giving thanks (not that we only give thanks at the end of November). Tonight we were with our small group from church. Tomorrow we gather with friends (we're not traveling to be with family this year).

Church groups, friends, family...all fitting places to give thanks. Circles of relationships God puts us in for the sake of experiencing Him, community, forgiveness, grace, mercy and love. Sometimes these relationships are hard...holidays can bring up painful memories and empty spaces.

No matter how difficult our circumstances may be, we all have things for which we can give thanks. There is something in the act of thanksgiving that changes us. It acknowledges that we cannot supply all our needs on our own; it takes our eyes of our selfish pursuits and desires. In giving thanks we must momentarily relinquish our envy, greed or unhappiness and give ourselves into a spirit of gratitude if only for a minute.

When our boys are being ungrateful or in a bad mood, we have them name five things they are thankful for. It's a good practice for us all. May tomorrow not be the only time we pause to give thanks. May you find moments to pause in gratitude each day.

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