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Thanksgiving Meditation

November 10, 2017 | by pac-admin

Rev. Chris StrattonAcademic Dean, History & Theology Chair 

The following meditation is a recap of a message delivered by Rev. Chris Stratton at the 2016 Dedication Service.

Gratitude is simply gratefulness for what has been given to us by God. The sun, the moon, trees, air to breathe, parents, grandparents, existence itself; all of these are gifts. But in order to recognize these gifts, we need to be the type of people who cultivate a sense of wonder, curiosity and profound awe for the givenness of things. We need to pay attention. We need to interpret signs. We did not create this world, but we find ourselves in it, created by God with the ability to know it and possessing various talents and abilities. Our temptation is always to say that we are responsible for our gifts, that we made ourselves, but the truth is that we are deeply dependent beings. We depend upon God, and we depend upon one another. Moreover, as Christians we realize that we are creatures whom God has rescued from sin and death, doing everything for us in salvation that we could not do for ourselves. This is the ultimate reason to live a life characterized by gratitude.

In any worthy endeavor, it’s always good to start small, and that’s why I want to talk about Hobbits.  Hobbits are Tolkien’s little people. They are simple folk who live their lives peacefully integrated into the Shire. They make local attachments. They love to eat, drink and be merry. They love farming because they accept the givenness of the land. They are happy-go-lucky, trusting that they are small but cared for by larger forces in the world. And as a result of these things they take on great tasks where others often don’t try or give up, and they do so with confidence because they believe that everything is a gift. Their gratitude for life is so complete, so simple, that they even give away gifts on their birthdays rather than insisting on receiving them. As the wizard Gandalf says, “Hobbits really are amazing creatures…You can learn all that there is to know about their ways in a month, and yet after a hundred years they can still surprise you at a pinch.”  

So why should you be like a Hobbit, and in what ways? I’m certainly not suggesting you should walk around with oversized hairy bare feet or smoke Old Toby… No… I want you to be like a Hobbit because I want you to live simply with a built-in sense of gratitude for what has been given to you, wherever you are. Hobbits don’t constantly look for the next best thing, they simply cultivate what’s been given. This is their great strength. They don’t seek to build their own kingdoms, but rather to inhabit well the one in which they already reside. If called to leave, they will, but not before that. This, I think, is why Frodo and Sam are the only ones that make it to Mordor to destroy the great ring of power, because they know the task is beyond them, but they have hope that doing the right thing will win out.  They succeed where everyone else in the world of men fails because they treat all of life as a gift to be cultivated. So be like a Hobbit, because as Chesterton says, “When it comes to Stratton_Chris_14life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.”

Strive to be that kind of person, the one who is grateful for the givenness of things, because God is on the throne, He is good, He is in control, and most importantly, He loves you very much.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Rev. Stratton