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If you are on Facebook (and really…who isn’t on Facebook these days), you’ve probably been reading the status updates of your friends and acquaintances as they post each day during November that one thing, event or person for which they are thankful. Perhaps you’ve been participating in this ritual yourself. Good for you.

I am not making these daily posts. For some reason, I just can’t bring myself to be all that reflective alongside the latest Farmville updates, rude comics, and music videos. But I am a thankful person. Really I am.


Okay…mostly not thankful enough.

Just one example: The good folks here at Grace have been updating the 1970’s-era kitchen in the parsonage. Everything was torn back to the bare walls and rebuilt…new wiring and lighting, mostly new appliances, new cupboards and counters and floors…everything. The very skilled folks of this place have been doing the work themselves on nights and weekends, and they’ve been very particular about doing it well. It’s going to be wonderful. But it has been going on for more than 14 weeks, which is long enough to make one weary of not having a kitchen. Consequently, my attitude toward the project hasn’t been the most thankful or charitable…especially for the last month or so.

On the other hand: I just found out that our friend Val gets to move back home tomorrow. She was flooded out of her North Dakota parsonage back on May 23, and has been “making do” ever since. Needless to say, she’s pretty excited and thankful to be back in her own place.

The difference between these two scenarios helps me understand why thanksgiving…real thanksgiving…is so darned hard: in my sinfulness, I find it difficult to get out of my own way long enough to understand how truly blessed I am. Luther (after Augustine) identifies this as living in se curvatus, i.e. turned in on oneself, and it’s the headline symptom for the sinful life. I seem to be infected.

The cure for this infection, of course, has already been delivered. It is a gracious Savior whose redeeming work among us begins by unfolding our self-centered lives so that we might grasp both our own deep need and the emergent beauty of a cosmos being set right by unmerited and unrelenting grace. This wider and more genuine perspective on life cannot help but yield awe and thanksgiving.

Truth is: most of the time I don’t realize how good I have it. (I’m convinced, by the way, that I’m not alone in this flaw.) So thanks be to God for a glimpse of reality. And thanks be to God for Val’s homecoming. And thanks be to God for a new kitchen, and committed craftsmen, and the willingness to take the time to do things well. And thanks be to God for the opportunity to be shaped not by some anxiety about what’s missing in our lives, but by the wonder of what we have already been given.

You read it here; I won’t be posting it on Facebook.


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