Few countries in the world take gratitude as seriously as the United States of America. It has been historically ingrained in American culture to be thankful in everything. This even applies to gratuities in restaurants and other service providers. Many countries do not give tips while others set a standard of 10%. Americans, however, give in excess of 15% or more to any waiter who serves them well.
Although there is a younger American culture that may change this, it is still inspiring to be in the United States for the Thanksgiving holiday. Friends invite each other for family celebrations where they share what they are thankful for. The country stops to be thankful. This is unique and beautiful.
Seventh-day Adventists are uniquely connected to this because we stop every week to articulate our gratitude to God and each other for whatever happened during the week. We often call this moment ‘vespers’ as it happens during sunset on Friday and Saturday. The Sabbath is a celebration of gratefulness. It is the weekly version of the annual Thanksgiving holiday and we believe every human being should experience it.
On this day, we are commanded to remember we are free and join the rest of creation in worshipping the Creator. Freedom is also an emblem of the American culture.
If you ask Americans what they are thankful for, many will mention freedom. Some would go as far as proclaiming they are thankful to have freedom unlike any other country on earth. Indeed, freedom is a central theme for what it means to be American.
However, Americans form the greatest cohort of indebted, obese, medicated and addicted people on the planet. Millions of adverts promise we would have more value if we buy their product. Unfortunately, that is a promise that cannot be kept because our value is determined by the One who made and rescued us - Jesus. Until we know Him intimately we will continue to sabotage our joy.
According to Brene Brown, social science researcher, addiction cannot survive in an environment of gratitude. Expressing our gratitude to God and each other is the only way to experience true freedom. Seventh-day Adventists believe that God, in his infinite wisdom, has given us a day every week when we don’t need to concern ourselves with our career, education, shopping or anything else that distracts us from what really matters - connecting with Him and each other.
As it turns out, the United States needs this Thanksgiving holiday much more than it realizes. However, once a year is not enough. We dream of the day when everyone will remember Gods instruction to do this every week, every Sabbath.
Therefore, we wish for you a Happy Thanksgiving this Thursday and every Sabbath thereafter.