I love words — especially when they communicate well. A couple of weeks ago I heard a pastor friend, Rev. Mark Girard, use the word “thanksliving” in a sermon. Assuming this was a new word, I researched its origin to discover that in reality it has been around for several centuries.For instance, Matthew Henry (1662-1714) used the word in one of his writings. And comedian Grady Nutt published a piece on the concept in his book Agaperos (1977). (See www.the-cartoonist.com/Nutt/thanksliving.doc).
Though I did not remember hearing the word “thanksliving” prior to my friend’s sermon, I understood its definition immediately. Thanksliving is a way of life, 24/7, every day of the year.
“Thanksliving” contrasts with “thanksgiving.” Thanksgiving is associated with Thanksgiving Day. Webster defines Thanksgiving as “the act of giving thanks." A national holiday in several countries, Thanksgiving Day is designated in the United States as the 4th Thursday of November.Highways fill with travelers . . . churches offer special worships services, food baskets and community Thanksgiving meals . . . and many Americans look forward to great football games and serious shopping. For many of us, the Thanksgiving event culminates with a gathering of family and/or friends for turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie and other favorite dishes. There is one problem, though.As great as a Thanksgiving event may be, it comes and goes.
Not so with “thanksliving.” It is a lifestyle instead of an event. It is a way of being instead of a specific action. Paul describes the spirit of “thanksliving” in Philippians 4. “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say rejoice . . . Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7
Note that Paul does not say to rejoice in the Lord when things are good . . . or when you are on top of your game . . . or even every November. Rather the Christians of Phillipi are instructed to rejoice in God always — whatever the circumstances, context or feelings! Paul knows what a challenge that can be, as he is likely writing to the Philippians during a two-year imprisonment for a capital crime.
Yes, I love words. And my favorite “new” word is in reality a concept as old as the Apostle Paul.That is, approach life with an attitude of thanksgiving — not only on Thanksgiving Day but every day of the year.
Happy Thanksliving! As always it is a privilege to serve as your bishop.
North Alabama Conference