Wednesday, November 21, 2007

... about family

I realized I didn't share the last column I wrote for the paper. It appeared a couple of weeks after our Canadian Thanksgiving. I guess it's still timely since tomorrow is Thanksgiving for any American readers. Here it is.

A couple of weeks ago was Thanksgiving. It's not uncommon at Thanksgiving dinner to go around the table and have each person tell about something they're thankful for.

We did something like that in church on the day before Thanksgiving. We set up a thanksgiving tree. It was a cross made of a couple of rough two-by-fours set into a Christmas tree stand with some dry, bare branches tied to it. We distributed coloured paper leaves with a string attached to every person in church that day and they were asked to write something they were thankful for on the leaf.

When the people came forward for Holy Communion, our church family meal, they were asked to hang their thanksgiving leaf on the tree and by the end of the worship service we had a colourful thanksgiving tree decorated with the things we're thankful for.

It was interesting to read, after worship, what some of the people had written on their leaves. Along with things like "turkey" and "cheese" (there were a few kids in church that day) there were leaves that gave thanks for health, friends, a happy marriage, God's abundant love and gifts, and a whole lot of people gave thanks for family.

I know just what they're talking about. I'm a happily married father of four children, two daughters aged 14 and 12, and two sons aged 9 and 5. I am so thankful for my family. They are a gift from God, a great blessing. The wisdom of the Hebrew scriptures mentions the blessing of the family. "Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their parents" (Proverbs 17:6).

Giving thanks for my family makes me think of all the other unnecessary concerns I have in my life. Of course we all want to be able to provide for our families so we might sometimes be worried about the security of our jobs or how much we earn. That's an important part of any life.

But there are so many other things that occupy our thoughts, like what kind of house you live in, what kind of car you drive or how old it is, how big and new your TV is. I read a statistic that said the average cost of a luxury kitchen remodel costs $10,000 more than it costs to build a typical Habitat for Humanity home. Since 1950 the average new house has increased by 1,247 square feet while the size of the average family has shrunk by one person.

Unfortunately many of our concerns and worries are caused by greed. But when it comes right down to it, the things we're most thankful for can't be bought with any amount of money. "Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions" (Luke 12:15).

Think about what you're most thankful for. Is it a car, a TV, a big expensive house? Or are you thankful for your health, a sufficient roof over your head, and the blessing of a happy marriage and family? Thanksgiving is over but giving thanks for all the good things God has given to us doesn't have to be confined to the second Monday of October. "O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever" (Psalm 106:1).

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