Pass the… Calendar

Everything that has been created by God is good, and nothing that is received with thanksgiving should be rejected (1 Timothy 4:4, Common English Bible).

Several years ago I wrote one of my all-time favorite sermon series. I titled it “Pass the…” and I based the series around the Thanksgiving table. Since there are only four Sundays in the month of November, there were only four sermons in the series. They were “Pass the…Bread,” “Pass the…Cranberry Sauce,” “Pass the…Cornbread Dressing,”and “Pass the Pecan Pie.” I got a lot of questions about how I could leave certain things, particularly the turkey out of the series.

A few years later, at a different church, I pulled the old series out and dusted it off for a complete re-write. Remembering how folks asked about leaving off the turkey last time, I wrote my newsletter article to go along with the series and it was “Pass the…Turkey.” That article now seems forever lost.

When I moved to Sweeny earlier this year I thought I would have the opportunity to do something again with my favorite Thanksgiving series. This time I thought I would give the series a whole new re-write. I had been toying with the idea of turning the whole idea into a book for sometime and this would give me the opportunity to add say, four more chapters. Then I found out my shoulder was going to require surgery and I was going to lose a Sunday right off the bat.

At the same time, I started giving thought to the relatively new Facebook tradition of “Thirty Days of Thankfulness.” That made me think, “OK. why not turn “Pass the…” into a blog series for the month of November. And that is where we are.

Today is November 1st. Today is the day we move rather quickly from thoughts of the ghoulish, costumes and probably way too much candy with Halloween to thoughts of Thanksgiving. Even if we are a bit more liturgical in our calendar thoughts, that means moving from Reformation Day on October 31 to All Saints Day on November 1 (we will talk about All Saints Day this Sunday).

To me, those more liturgical days all fit in well with November’s theme. As a Protestant (though historically the argument can be made that United Methodists are not Protestant in its most traditional sense) I am thankful for the changes that came in the Church with the Protestant Reformation. I am thankful for those who came to the table before us, thankful for those who built the Thanksgiving traditions we now celebrate and remember.

So, there is more to it than simply turning another page on the calendar. I did do some of that today (and still have a few left to turn) and each time I did, the thought entered my mind, “Thanksgiving is coming.”

For me, Thanksgiving, and by extension this whole month we seem to set aside for being thankful is a bit of a conundrum. After all, God gave us all we have. God gives us each day we live and breathe. Should we not be thankful every day? I think there is a pretty obvious answer to my question. Of course we should. We are more richly blessed than just about any of us think. We have more than we will ever recognize and God deserves our thanks for all we have and all we are. Further, those thoughts of Thanksgiving shouldn’t just come on the fourth Thursday of November or even the month of November.

As I read Paul’s words to Timothy I have to also take a moment and pause in my thinking. Nothing I said above is untrue but at the same time, I need to think about something more. Yes we should be thankful all the time. It is always my hope that many of us are. But, having a thankful heart is something that just doesn’t happen in all our lives.

That’s too bad. I read somewhere a few years ago that Thanksgiving should be the quintessential American holiday. That is because no matter who we are, no matter what our faith belief (or lack there of) may be, we all have reason to be thankful to someone or something. None of us goes through life all on our own. None of us go through life without getting help from someone along the way. Even if we are not thankful to God (presumably because we don’t believe in God) there are people in our lives whom deserve our thanks.

Let’s all remember, while we should be thankful during more than just November, this month serves a good purpose, to remind us to be thankful, not only to God but to all those God places in our lives. We can be thankful for the difference they make for us.

So, would you pass me that calendar. I need to rip the October page off to help us to set our hearts on what is right, giving our thanks to God.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Grace and Peace,

Copyright 2016, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

This is part 1 in the November Thanksgiving series, “Pass the…” for a listing on the other posts please see the index.


Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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