The Secret Ingredient For Thanksgiving

Thomas Blevins

As I write this, I’m standing in my kitchen preparing a list of items we’ll need to grab from the store to ensure we have all we need for our family’s Thanksgiving meal this year. Part of this is because last year I forgot to add sour cream, an essential ingredient, to our cornbread casserole and used cream cheese instead. It turned out to be an entirely different meal that’s flavor was less satisfying and, unlike previous years, no one was passing the dish around to share it.

We’ve all messed up a meal or two…or three! Especially when we use the wrong ingredients or substitute them with one that we think might work instead.

And this might be a bit of a reach, but I’m finding that we have a tendency to forget to add essential ingredients in our faith and substitute them with ingredients that can cheapen the flavor of the Gospel. And those around us won’t want a single bite of what we’re trying to serve them.

Ingratitude is one of them. It robs us of thankfulness and starves us from vital nutrients that sustain us when we grow weary.

In her book, One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp reminds us of this by pointing to the failure of the first man and woman – and the devil before them – whose desire for more led to being ungrateful of what God had given them...

“From all of our beginnings, we keep reliving the Garden story. Satan, he wanted more. More power, more glory. Ultimately, in his essence, Satan is an ingrate. And he sinks his venom into the heart of Eden. Satan’s sin becomes the first sin of all humanity: the sin of ingratitude. Adam and Eve are, simply, painfully ungrateful for what God gave. Isn’t that the catalyst for all my sin? Our fall was, has always been, and always will be, that we aren’t satisfied with God and what He gives. We hunger for something more, something other.”

In our craving for something more, something other, we settle for unthankfulness and fail to be grateful with all God has provided for us. And this is a guaranteed recipe for bitterness, hate, and anger – a meal God never created for us to partake in and surely never to share.

But there is a secret ingredient that leads to a life of thanksgiving...the Spirit of Jesus Christ.  

Jesus made himself nothing by taking on the very nature of a servant. He became poor so that we might receive the riches of the kingdom. He was personally present and spent time with thieves, prostitutes and people that no respectable Jew would have anything to do with without the fear of judgement. He broke bread and shared meals with social and religious outcasts and welcomed them as family. He befriended His enemies and promoted the lowly. And He offered forgiveness to a mob of people filled with hatred in their hearts as they nailed Him to the cross.

I love what Brennan Manning writes in The Ragamuffin Gospel: “The deeper we grow in the Spirit of Jesus Christ, the poorer we become – the more we realize that everything in life is a gift. The tenor of our lives becomes one of humble and joyful thanksgiving. Awareness of our poverty and ineptitude causes us to rejoice in the gift of being called out of darkness into wondrous light and translated into the kingdom of God's beloved Son.”

We’re all bound to make a mess with the ingredients we’ve been given in this life, and it’s easy to let ungratefulness slip into the mix. But God creates masterpieces out of our messes when we take the Spirit of Jesus off the shelf and add it to our everyday recipe for thanksgiving. And that’s the type of meal that this starving world needs to taste and share.

All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory. That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. – 2 Corinthians 4:15-16