Giving thanks: It's that day again!

Posted: Friday, November 23, 2001

Listed below are the Six "Ts" of Thanksgiving:

1. Turkeys made from children's hand prints.

2. Table settings with five kernels of corn at each place setting.

3. Tableaus of people in Pilgrim clothing, carrying Bibles and blunderbusses, walking to church ... .

4. Tough truck drivers watching as a grandmother and grandson pray thankfully over their Truck Stop Restaurant dinner (thanks, Norman Rockwell).

5. Too much turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, dressing, dessert .

6. Tums! (Need I say more?)

All these, and more, lead me to reflect on the many blessings we enjoy as citizens of the United States of America. Let me name a few:

Last night I went to bed without worrying about having a B-52 bomber come overhead with the objective of dropping bombs on my town. This morning I didn't have to go out to search in some Dumpster for something to eat for breakfast (or for the entire day, either). I had to make a choice between items of clothing to wear, rather than simply wearing what I had on yesterday as well as through the night. In Afghanistan, this is highly unlikely.

My children and grandchildren, some who live far away, share in this same peace and prosperity with friends my wife and me. We eat well, dress quite adequately, drive places rather than walk, share fun and laughter with many friends and, furthermore, enjoy life as few other people in the world enjoy. In many portions of Africa these blessings are notably absent.

We also have the great privilege of having a voice in our government. We may vote for officials. We may speak to them regarding our personal rights and privileges. We may seek to address those matters we feel to be incorrectly handled by our civil leaders and, in all this, we have guaranteed freedom from fear of reprisal. In places such as China, this freedom is essentially nonexistent.

Last Sunday we went to the church of our choice, while many of our friends attended other churches of their choice. We anticipate meeting this Sunday night at a Community Thanksgiving Service with many people from different churches. We may do this because God has permitted us to live in a country with great religious freedom -- a freedom OF religion, not FROM religion.

This religious freedom is guaranteed by our constitution and ensured by our government as well as our police force. We also have the privilege of sharing our faith with others without fear of oppression by the authorities. In many Muslim nations, this incredible freedom is greatly restricted, if not lacking altogether.

In the words of Lee Greenwood's song: "I'm proud to be an American I know I'm free God bless the U.S.A."

These thoughts have stirred me to renewed thankfulness to God for the many blessings we, all too often, take for granted. At this season of the year, I invite you to join me in thanking God for these privileges, and also asking God to give our president and his advisers special wisdom to lead our nation with integrity and wisdom through the days ahead.

Let's pray that our great land would continue to be a beacon for all nations to see and follow toward true freedoms for the peoples of the world.

Charles G. Thornton is the associate pastor of Peninsula Grace Brethren Church, 44175 Kalifornsky Beach Road in Soldotna. Sunday worship is at 8:30 and 11 a.m. Bible classes are at 9:45 a.m. The phone number is 262-6442.

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