It was his valedictory sermon after 22 years leading our church, and the Reverend C.C. Campbell Gillon made sure we wouldn’t soon forget his message, to wit: Thanks, as in Thanks be to God (T.B.T.G.) should be part of every day, not just the fourth Thursday of November. By that, this inspired and inspiring Scot includes giving thanks for beginnings, for endings and the blessings and insights that come our way in between.
This Thursday, tens of millions of Americans short and tall, slender and not-so-slender, all races, all backgrounds, will gather in small to large groups to focus on that all-American holiday (literally “holy day,” as we are thanking God for our blessings) — Thanksgiving. It is common to us all.
On a coast-to-coast scale this Thanksgiving will mirror the first one, in 1621, in a corner of Massachusetts, when the Pilgrims shared a harvest meal with the Wampanoag Indians after having survived a severe winter during which several of their number died.
Each of us has relatives, friends, happenings and events for which we can say Thanks be to God. Other things affect nearly all of us. For example, T.B.T.G. now and often for …
• Families — the glue that holds societies together.
• A Constitution and Bill of Rights that permits the right of free speech even to people intent on stamping out all public manifestations of religion.
• A President with clear objectives and the courage of his convictions.
• All those police, firefighters and emergency medical workers who put their lives on the line for the rest of us every day.
• The men and women of the armed services who do the same, both here and in faraway places.
• The American impulse to help those in need; to contribute to charities; to pull together as one people in times of emergency.
• An economy so strong at its base that it can withstand recessions and zigzags in the market.
• Clergy such as Campbell Gillon who see their mission as helping the rest of us better understand God’s love for humankind and the fulfillment that comes from translating that into helping others. (Gillon, who has packed his church every Sunday, believes, by the way, that a minister is not meant to be a political precinct captain.)
So, Thanks be to God for all that you have, even if that may not be all that you would like to have.
Thanks, and amen (that fine Hebrew word meaning “so be it”).