As is our custom here in the United States, more of us travel to be with family and friends than at any other time of the year. Fascinating, isn’t it, that this civil holiday, established during our not- so- Civil War, should draw so much of our time and energy. One would think Christmas would pull rank. But despite all the reasons it should, especially that consumer-based trade off under the tree, Thanksgiving seems to be the moment in time when we want to be together. Gratitude is the holiday, rather than taking a holiday. I like that.

My favorite part of Thanksgiving is the preparation to bring it into being. Most holiday meals, even if they include some prepackaged items, take time to plan and create. It’s also better as a team effort. Everybody that will sit around the table usually has a specialty they like to share and that everybody else looks forward to enjoying. My personal favorite thing that day is the stuffing – eating it, not making it. My mother is the master stuffing maker in our family. The fragrance wafting from the ingredients as she blends them together is a wonderful hint of things to come. As is the custom in most kitchens around the world, I scoop up as many tastes as I could before it goes in the oven. Appetizers come in many forms.

Remembering these moments preserves something that is uniquely our own in how we celebrate important times in our lives. Collectively we are the people of the United States. Individually we are each finding our own way to be, grow and love in the best way we know how. In preserving our heritage we are pre-serving, giving forward to the generations that will follow us, just as we have received this gift of gratitude from our ancestors.
It is this deeply-felt gratitude with which Job spoke with God: “You have granted me life and steadfast love, and your care has preserved my spirit (Job 10:12).” In reading this verse during my devotional this morning I came to see how much God’s care for us is manifested even before we are aware of it. All of that love poured into us fills us up, gives us reserves to handle whatever comes our way. We are pre-served, given generous tastes of what God has for us, even before we sit down to the table filled with the feast of God’s abundance for us, for each of us, in our own way.

Last week Oprah shared the story of an incredible healer, John of God. John is well-known around the world as a simple man with the equivalent of a second grade education who appears to be able to heal with spiritual gifts in miraculous ways. Thousands flock to see him each week, hoping for their miracle. One of the doctors with whom Oprah spoke during her program had met John of God, and he struggled to articulate what he felt and believed about what he had seen and experienced in that meeting. Holding both medical and advanced psychiatric degrees, as well as a Master of Divinity degree, did little to help him in his desire to communicate clearly and honestly what he had seen and heard while visiting John of God in his South American office. The best he could manage was to say that he was sure that we are each much more, and much more important in this world, than we can ever imagine.

It makes sense, then, that we are pre-served, loved, before we know are, and we continue to be loved long after we cease to be. It is life and that steadfast love, poured into us by God through those who came before us and surround us now, for which we are most grateful.

So, we continue our traditions, passed down from generation to generation, including that love, with thanks.

Author's Bio: 

The Rev. Cory L. Kemp, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay with a double major in Communication and the Arts and Social Change and Development and a minor in Women's Studies, was ordained into the ministry of the Moravian Church in North America after completing her Master of Divinity degree studies through Moravian Theological Seminary. Over twenty-five years of experience in individual and community ministries gives Rev. Kemp an informed perception about faith, its implications and struggles in everyday life. Rev. Kemp focuses her work on helping people understand their faith and how faith can become transformational in their lives. Challenge your faith - visit