Abundance with Thanksgiving

November 17, 2017

We have hot water heat at the house. Last week the boiler went out. This is not a complaint. The boiler hasn’t needed any maintenance in about 20 years, so it was due. Mechanical things eventually break. But a November night in Michigan can be quite chilly without heat. We were fine. We bundled up and had extra blankets on the beds. We survived, but I’m very thankful for heat.

By the way, I’m also thankful for thermostats. We command heat in our houses with very little effort. My grandmother Holden lived in a tenant farm house with my great-aunt and great-uncle. It had a burner that had to be stoked manually. The houses I grew up in still showed the evidence of coal chutes. We are not that far removed from a very different time. I’m thankful for thermostats.

After the boiler was repaired, I awoke and took a cold shower which is not my preference. Apparently when the boiler was repaired, it necessitated the hot water heater be turned off, and it wasn’t relit once the boiler was fixed. I successfully relit the hot water heater. I had to use my phone to take a picture of the tiny print instructions, but the hot water heater is now relit. I’m thankful for hot water.

I like Thanksgiving Day with the traditional meal and time with family. The Calorie Control Council has calculated that the average Thanksgiving Day meal with drinks, desserts, and appetizers is about 4500 calories. If you are wondering how far you should walk to walk off your Thanksgiving meal, a moderate walk of 12 hours would work off 4500 calories. Although it seems to me that there is nothing moderate about a 12-hour walk. Why do we traditionally have such a meal? It is a celebratory feast. We are thankful for the abundance of harvest, and the feast reflects that abundance.

Our American experience is one of abundance. It can be found in the little things that we take for granted except when they don’t work like heat, running water, or hot water on tap. It runs the gamut to the complicated things like smart phones that we use for many things besides talking like taking the picture of small print so that we can read it. What is the appropriate response to such abundance?

First, I need to thank God for the blessings in my life. It is God who has made an abundant world and given us the ability to acquire possessions (see Deut. 8:18). Second, in abundance I need to learn contentment. There will always be things I don’t have, and that is okay. I have more than I need. Paul instructs us that if we have food, clothing, and shelter, we should learn to be content (1 Tim. 6:8).* Finally, abundance brings the responsibility of good stewardship. I am responsible to God for how the good things in my life are used, and when I face abundance, I must also learn to give and to share. Putting these into practice will help us face abundance with thanksgiving.

* “But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content” (1 Timothy 6:8, ESV). Paul’s word skepasma means covering and likely includes both clothing and shelter even though it is translated only as clothing in the ESV. The word is also the plural form in this verse — coverings. I suspect that Paul could say in two words (food and coverings) what we usually say in three: food, clothing, and shelter.

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