Thanksgiving Message

Posted by Richard S. Lytle, Ph.D. in Blogs

Stop, Look, and Listen: Thanksgiving 2018
Stop. Look. Listen. As a child, I was taught to use these three words to help me navigate my journey on the way home, making safe crossings on busy streets. First, I was to slow down, change my pace, come to a complete halt, allowing me the best opportunity to see without distraction. Next, I was to look around, using my eyes to see what was going on around me. Finally, I was to listen, adding to my ability to make a safe crossing. You cannot make an optimal crossing without stopping to look and listen.

Jeanne and I invite you to join our family on Thanksgiving Day to stop, look, and listen. First, stop. Plan a specific time during your day to stop, changing the pace of family activity for a few minutes. Have every one of every age come to a complete halt. Be still. Next, look around the room and examine the timeline of your life, contemplating your blessings. Finally, listen to each other as you go around the room sharing that for which you are thankful. These three word-action statements will help you and your family assess and optimize the opportunity before you to make a great crossing into the holidays and the new year ahead. Scripture supports this process:
· StopBe still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. (Psalm 46:10).
· LookThe eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body (family) will be full of light. (Matthew 6:22).
· ListenIf anyone has ears to hear, let them hear. (Mark 4:22).

There was no Black Friday retail strategy in November 1621. The early settlers did not seek quick Christmas bargains after Thanksgiving. Rather, as a spiritual discipline, they stopped and joined in simple days of fasting and thanksgiving after harvest. They changed their pace, taking time to assess (look and listen) the goodness and bounty of God. In fact, Congress took time to stop and send a congressional resolution to President George Washington who took time to stop and issue the first federal Thanksgiving proclamation on October 3, 1789. He asked us to take time to contemplate our blessings, giving thanks to God for His bounty in our land. He declared in part:

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the Providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me ‘to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness;’ Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the twenty-sixth day of November next, to be devoted by the People of these United States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; That we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks, for His kind care and protection of the People of this country...; for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of His Providence..

I am glad our national forefathers stopped and admonished us to take time to give thanks! In this year of seemingly unprecedented national anger and mean-spirited debate, may we, as national leaders, slow down and take time to remember the Lord our God and to share with others our hope in Him, giving simple and authentic thanks for His kind care and protection. As Moses reminded us long ago, “When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the Lord.(Deuteronomy 6:10-12)

Jeanne and I remember each of you at this time of year and give thanks for the welcome you have extended us this past year. From our home to yours, we invite you to join our family this week as we stop, look, and listen – sitting, talking, eating, sharing, and walking together in thanksgiving as family and friends.

In Christ,

Rick and Jeanne

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