What Am I Grateful For Today… Thanksgiving Traditions

12 Brothers and sisters, we ask you to respect those who are working with you, leading you, and instructing you. 13 Think of them highly with love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. 14 Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are disorderly. Comfort the discouraged. Help the weak. Be patient with everyone. 15 Make sure no one repays a wrong with a wrong, but always pursue the good for each other and everyone else. 16 Rejoice always. 17 Pray continually. 18 Give thanks in every situation because this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 19 Don’t suppress the Spirit. 20 Don’t brush off Spirit-inspired messages, 21 but examine everything carefully and hang on to what is good. 22 Avoid every kind of evil. 23 Now, may the God of peace himself cause you to be completely dedicated to him; and may your spirit, soul, and body be kept intact and blameless at our Lord Jesus Christ’s coming. 24 The one who is calling you is faithful and will do this (1 Thessalonians 5:12-24, Common English Bible).

I love Thanksgiving. And, I don’t just love it for the food. I don’t just love it for the football. I don’t just love the parades. Don’t get me wrong, I will enjoy the food and I feel pretty certain I will at least watch the Houston HEB Parade. They are all important traditions in my family with the Thanksgiving Holiday.

Some years ago, when we had a Thanksgiving that was just Cindy, Wayne, Christopher and me, we started a new family tradition, well, it is a semi-tradition. When it has just been us we don’t have turkey and the trimmings. We have beef ribs and all those trimmings. We reasoned back in those days that there was a pretty good chance that the first Thanksgiving was a cookout. If it was a cookout, it is only another step to a barbecue and what is a barbecue without ribs. That was our logic anyway. And, as the comedian used to say, “That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.”

In truth, we have probably had more of the stereotypical, traditional Thanksgiving dinners over the years than the dinner we have celebrated as “our traditional Thanksgiving dinner.”  Last Sunday I ate the “traditional Thanksgiving dinner,” when I attended the “Sweeny Community Thanksgiving Feast.” Tomorrow, it’s rib time!!!

I do have one suggestion for a Thanksgiving tradition that is bigger than food, football, parades and such. How about this for a Thanksgiving tradition? BE THANKFUL!!! We need to stop and think about how blessed we are.

Several years ago I read somewhere, I don’t remember who said it or where I read it, so this is a paraphrase. Thanksgiving should be among the most important holidays in American society. Here is the reasoning. No matter who we are, regardless of whether we are rich or poor, no matter our faith (Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, etc.), or no faith at all, we always have something for which we should be thankful to someone.

Just think about it this way, as an American, we have our “founding fathers” and the men and women of our military we can thank for our freedom. We can be thankful to Aunt Connie for bringing those great yeast rolls to Thanksgiving dinner.

For we who believe, our traditions should always include being thankful to God for all we are and all we have. “Give thanks in every situation.”

That is what I am grateful for today? What are you grateful for today? Write it in your journal and tell someone else, perhaps at the Thanksgiving dinner table.

Friends, have a great Thanksgiving and enjoy your dinner, whatever your Thanksgiving tradition might be. Just know, while you eat your turkey, I will be eating ribs.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thanksgiving,

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved


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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