In the United States and Canada, we are now entering a time of year dedicated to thanksgiving. During the next several weeks through the season of Advent, many will count their blessings and offer a public proclamation of gratitude to God for his love and faithfulness. Expressions of thankfulness will be manifest through the giving of cards and gifts, more intentional acts of hospitality, and increased donations of time and money in service to others. The traditional culmination of this season is the sharing of an extravagant meal together around a table.
While this is all well and good, when you stop and think about it, thanksgiving should encompass more than a time of year or a season of our lives. In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Paul says, "No matter what happens, always be thankful." This instruction is not exclusive to Paul. Countless scriptures, particularly the Psalms, direct us to view all of life as a blessing from God and therefore to give thanks.
As the recent inauguration of our new president, Mark Labberton, powerfully expressed, we have much to be thankful for as the community of Fuller. We give thanks for the vision and creativity of new leadership. We give thanks for continuity with the legacy of those leaders who served us in the past. We give thanks for the increasing diversity and richness of the 127 countries and various expressions of the Christian faith that encompass Fuller. We give thanks for the opportunity and challenge of reflecting and engaging all the countries of the world as well as all of communities of practice as Fuller.
Thanksgiving, however, is much more than taking a moment to say "thank you." Gratitude is the epicenter out of which Jesus taught to us to pray to our Father. As followers of Christ, thankfulness is to be our orientation for perceiving, sometimes being surprised by, and always glorifying our Triune God's work in and through this world. Eucharist-thanksgiving-is the foundation of the table that we gather around and break bread and share wine not just once a year but as often as we remember and proclaim that Christ has died, Christ has risen, and Christ will come again.