Monday, November 17, 2008

Notes From My Knapsack 11-20-08
Jeff Gill

Thanks To Give

Sunday night, at 7:00 pm in First Presbyterian Church, Granville’s Ministerium is hosting a Community Thanksgiving Service open to all.

“Giving thanks for what,” say younger retirees with their money largely tied up in a cratering stock market?

“Giving thanks for what,” ask breadwinners who just lost their job. Those who had hours cut might say “should I be giving thanks for not losing my job, but just living in fear now that I will?”

“Giving thanks for what,” might be the retort from those who still have their job, but realize that many of their lifestyle and family choices are now hemmed in and constrained in ways not imagined last November.

Those are all tough situations, and even here in Brigadoon the prospects for Christmas in many families are grimmer, if not actually grim.

Parents are having late night conversations with each other about how to talk to the kids about where they won’t be going, what won’t be bought, what has to stop happening in the new year. That’s hard, and whether in an upper income bracket or down in the dumps, moms and dads don’t want to have to say these kinds of things.

Giving thanks for what we do have is a good place to start, though. You focus on what you don’t have, and the big ol’ world will always keep you on your heels.

The band Switchfoot has a song titled “Gone” with a passage towards the end you have to hear jauntily sung to really appreciate, but the idea is the same: “Gone, like Frank Sinatra, gone, like Elvis and his mom; like Al Pacino's cash, nothing lasts in this life. Gone, my high school dreams are gone, my childhood sweets are gone -- Life is a day that doesn't last for long.”

In other words, everything is “gone” sooner or later. How are you going to deal with that? To grab ahold of stuff with all the more desperation, or start to look at what’s really of value to you? How do you communicate to those around you what really matters?

Switchfoot goes on to sing “Life is more than money, time was never money.” Time is the one thing that everyone has the exactly same amount of – Now. That’s all you have, but it’s all anyone has, so no complaining. Now. Whatcha gonna do with it?

Time isn’t money. You can use money to shift your time around a bit, but there’s still one now to a customer, step up and spend it well. Is a super cool vacation helping to justify not spending time together the other 50 weeks of the year? Are restaurant meals saving time at home but resulting in store-bought conversation that isn’t bringing anyone any closer than watching TV? And do the extra cable channels give you all something to talk about, or do they keep people from talking to each other in the first place?

“We've got information in the information age / But do we know what life is, outside of our convenient Lexus cages?” Switchfoot asks us if we might step out of the boxes we’ve made, whether willingly venturing out, or pushed by circumstance, and realize that life truly is something to give thanks for.

Come join us Sunday at 7 pm at First Pres; I’d be thankful if you did.

Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio; tell him what you’re thankful for at

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