As we prepare for Thanksgiving I am reminded of the political storm in the U.S. we find ourselves in. For some, the question is, “how can we be thankful in the midst of the controversies and conflicts we face.” To me, that is the wrong question. The question should be: “how can we not be thankful for all that God has provided for us as our first response.” No matter what our challenges, God has given us the gift of life, and our response must be one of profound gratitude. Thanksgiving embodies this gratitude, and let us remember to first stop and give thanks.
I would also like to remind us that the very word, “Thanksgiving,” incorporates the twin concepts of “thanks” and “giving.” First, we are thankful, and second, because of this thankfulness, we should give. Isn’t this tracing back to our U.S. origin of providing a feast for others in our gratitude for God providing for us? Thus, our faith should remind us to be thankful, and in our thankfulness, we give to others.
I don’t think it is by any accident that our U.S. “Giving Tuesday” falls on Nov. 29 of this year. It is a movement whereby we are able to give to major causes of compassion and justice. Perhaps, at no recent time in our American history does “Giving Tuesday,” provide the opportunity to do something constructive in light of our feelings about our recent elections. If you are angry or happy, frustrated or vindicated, or somewhere between, all of us can do something positive by giving to others. Thanksgiving reminds us that we must be thankful, but our response to being thankful is to give.
I hope and pray that you will join me during this season, both to be thankful and to give.
Be the Hope,
Los Angeles Area Resident Bishop
The United Methodist Church