This Thanksgiving hymn is one of my favorites. Here is the first verse:
Come, ye thankful people, come,
raise the song of harvest home;
all is safely gathered in,
ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide
for our wants to be supplied;
come to God’s own temple, come,
raise the song of harvest home.
The hymn was written in 1844 by Rev. Henry Alford, an English churchman. As I understand the hymn, we are to give thanks for a good harvest. The hymn in our hymnal only has two of the four verses in the original text. The expanded text talks about our lives and our work as the harvest for God.
What does it mean to be a thankful people? Every religion that I have ever studied has a component of being grateful and offering thanksgiving within that religious tradition. Within Judaism gratitude is a central part of worship and in how one lives one’s life. The prophet Mohammad said, “Gratitude for the abundance you have received is the best insurance that the abundance will continue.” And gratitude is at the heart of Christianity. Buddhism lifts up the gratitude for what your parents have done to nurture you into adulthood.
What are the ways that we can show our gratitude to others? In searching the web, I discovered a site that discusses 50 ways to show gratitude. I like this quote from the site. “At the heart of it, Thanksgiving in particular calls us to see people with the deepest appreciation for the gifts they’ve given us. Some gifts are more immediately obvious than others—the type that come with praise, affection, and genuine esteem.”
Here are just the first ten ways from the site, http://tinybuddha.com/blog/50-ways-to-show-gratitude-for-the-people-in-your-life/:
1. Share a specific example of something they did for you and how it made a difference in your life.
2. Do something little but thoughtful for them—like clean up after Thanksgiving dinner!
3. Give a long, intimate hug; or if you know they don’t like hugs, stick out your hand for a handshake to cater to their preferences and make them smile.
4. Tell them you’re there if they have anything they want to talk about—and let them know they have your full attention.
5. Give them something of yours that you think they would enjoy, and let them know specifically why you want them to have it.
6. Invite them to do something you know they’ve always wanted to do.
7. Encourage them to try something you know they want to try, but haven’t yet because they’re scared.
8. Offer to do something you know they don’t enjoy doing, like organizing their closet or mowing their lawn.
9. Compliment them on a talent, skill, or strength that you admire.
10. Look them straight in the eyes and say, “You make the world a better place.”
As we enter into this fall time of giving thanks, I want to express my thanks to all of you who give of your time, talent, and treasure to lead our congregations, do the ministry that is before you, and keep our churches, societies, and fellowships growing and vital. May you be blessed with an abundant harvest and celebrate with others this season.