This week we celebrate Thanksgiving Day. As we do, we often explore the beginnings of this holiday in our national history. We talk about the Pilgrims and the Indians and that first harsh winter in the New World. But this week, we celebrate something that, as followers of Jesus, has much deeper roots. Those roots go back into the Old World, actually. Way back before the Pilgrims to a story as old as creation, with a climax about 2,000 years ago. It’s a story that continues through our day and gives meaning to our lives, even though we live half a world away from the streets of Jerusalem.

We should celebrate the true story of Thanksgiving. Or, as an article I read this week called it, “the Christian gospel viewed through the lens of that often-undervalued virtue known as ‘gratitude.’” It is a week for gratitude.

What should be the role of gratitude in our lives? Paul says it clearly in Romans 1, “They know about God, but they don’t honor him or even thank him. Their thoughts are useless, and their stupid minds are in the dark” (1:21, CEV). Part of what we were created to do was to be thankful to God. We were created to appreciate God. It didn’t take long for ingratitude to creep in from around the corner.

So, as you celebrate this week, don’t rush past this holiday to get into Christmas. Thanksgiving stands on its own, and it needs its own space to breathe. Use this week to remember God and the bounty of His gifts to us, especially His gift of Jesus. We have every spiritual gift in the heavenly places, in addition to the rest of the things we can see and touch and taste. But taste them all this week. Touch them and smell them and see them — all as a reminder of the goodness of God and of His creative power and love which we see on full display through Jesus.

This morning we remember that Savior through the Table of the Lord. We do that purposefully so that we enter this week appreciating the greatest gift ever received. Life. Forgiveness. Hope. When we are rightly related to God through Jesus Christ, the possibilities for a true celebration of thanksgiving are a present reality.

So, no matter where life has you this week, give thanks. As I grew up singing, give thanks for the roses and give thanks for the thorns those roses produce. We can give thanks for it all because we know the grace and forgiveness of God through Jesus Christ. Happy Thanksgiving!