Everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving... 1 Timothy 4:4 (NIV).
That's what it says. Everything God created is good. And nothing is to be rejected - IF - it is received with thanksgiving.
This is a radical, surprising, and controversial claim.
While it may now be Christian theological orthodoxy (that creation itself is good, but fallen), most creation theologies and origin-stories are violent. Creation itself is often seen as suffused with blood, born out of the battle between gods, or between good and evil forces. Not every Christian even believes in the thorough goodness of creation, as seen in traditions which "deny the flesh" without also embracing it, or which fixate on the battle with evil.
But this scripture is clear. Everything God created is good.
And now the still more amazing claim. No part of creation is to be rejected, nothing denied or disowned - but its acceptability is determined by its reception! If it is received with thanksgiving, as a blessing - well, IT IS!
One of the hallmarks of Native American spirituality is the centrality of thanksgiving. Some have called it the highest form of prayer. It is certainly true that it permeates our awareness of the holy: thanks for the world which which walk upon, thanks for the plants and animals which feed us, thanks for the ancestors who brought us into this world, thanks to those who journey with us, thanks for each breath which gives us life.
We can hardly go wrong in this world if we are continually alert to those many things for which thankfulness is the true and appropriate response. And if we make opportunities for experiencing and lifting up and hallowing those moments of thankfulness. Those hokey grade school turkeys, with every feather a prayer of thanksgiving. Thank you to the teachers who brought those thanksgivings into the world.
People talk about cultivating an "attitude of gratitude." Almost every moment, every action is an opportunity to be thankful. In this way, you have a greater opportunity to live in holiness, in that you more often experience the goodness which so so much part of the fabric of God's creation. The major problem with Thanksgiving Day is that every day might be a day of thanksgiving. It is wonderful that so many meals are being served this day to those who need food and companionship. Thank God, and thanks to all who are moved to donate their money, their time and skill, their care and compassion. How much more thanks are needed for those who do this every day? Thank God!
We need not be thankful for everything, as we pray for the end of things which are no blessing: war, poverty, illness, pain, broken relationships. We all have our list of things from which we await deliverance.
But there is so much to be thankful for this day. What is your thanksgiving?
I am grateful for the opportunity to write these words, and for those who read them. It is amazing sensation to know that people in Nigeria, the Philippines, Ukraine and Hudson Bay, Egypt and Panama have glanced this way - Thank you! For the good friends who are sharing their home and hospitality with me. For my partner and friend. For a job which has blessed me in so many ways, in feeding me and in making more of me. For the hope of change in our government and political life. For a church which is trying to love, welcome, nuture, and serve. For the first snow of the season. For a God who is faithful and so much more than I have been able to imagine.