Miroslav Volf wrote a wonderful little book that I read a few years ago with a focus on giving as a very human response to the fact that we receive from God. The book is titled “Free of Charge: Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace“. The basic point of the book is that we are not indeependent creatures but dependent upon God’s giving and therefore as non-independent creatures the appropriate response on our behalf is to follow in the nature of our Creator and also act in giving manners. We give in gratitude for all that we have been gifted.
So much of Christian faith revolves around the fact that we are the receivers of God’s gracious gifts and our response to those gifts. We are dependent. Christian faith begins with this fact, because it begins with the acknowledgement that we need the Lord’s forgiveness (the gift of not receiving just punishment for our sins against God, our fellow humans, and creation). If you claim to be a Christian but aren’t a dependent recipient of God’s grace then you are misinformed concerning what Christianity really is. We are dependent upon His grace and mercy. We are not independent creatures.
That’s what I love about Thanksgiving. Yes being with family and friends is great, the food is wonderful (leftover smoked turkey sandwiches truly make me happy for the week after Thanksgiving), and a nap during a Thanksgiving football game is a beautiful thing, but what I love most about Thanksgiving is the recognition that we are not independent creatures. We live and function because of the that which we freely receive from God. When I realize that I exist within God’s gracious gifts I then have a responsibility to use those gifts to help others. “Freely (I) have received; freely (I should) give.” If I wasn’t dependent upon Jesus then I could make the argument that others should take care of themselves because I took care of myself. Yet as a dependent creature I can’t make that argument.
The 4th of July may be what we call Independence Day but Thanksgiving is our collective US of A recognition that we are dependent. Thanksgiving is our Dependence Day.
Thanks Dependence Day to all of y’all.