As we approach the Thanksgiving Holiday, there is a tremendous opportunity for each of us to touch the lives of the many people who are suffering as the result of this economy. This year we have seen so much devastation throughout our country, with hurricanes, floods and earthquakes. These, along with the unbelievable economy, have left countless people in need of help. What better time than this Thanksgiving season to offer our support to those in need?

As a people, we must move beyond the traditional Thanksgiving meal and football games and extend ourselves to families who need our support. We have discovered that the government can’t do it all — in fact in some cases, the government has turned its back on those who need help the most. It is the church and the people of God, who are called upon to be concerned about the least, the lost and the lonely — to have compassion for those who live in our streets, and the unemployed who need shelter and clothing, or just need a friend. I have said on many occasions that the church has abandoned its commitment to meet the needs of God’s people. This is not an option, but a mandate. We are compelled to take care of our brothers and sisters. Jesus the Master teacher spoke often about His concern for the least. The Gospel of Matthew, 25:35–36 reads, “For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came to me.” This is just one illustration of how the Master spoke to us about our need to extend ourselves to others. This is not simply something we should do on Thanksgiving, but I use Thanksgiving for an opportunity for us to begin, if we have not already started, to meet the needs of God’s people, with the sheer act of “giving.”

As a Rotarian, I am moved by their theme, “Humanity in Motion.” That is to say, we show our humanity and our love for people by giving. In my humble opinion that is profound. When we realize that we are all part of God’s creation, our humanity is shown in how we care for one another. This takes us beyond color lines, educational lines, class lines and gender lines. We of all people know what it is to be hungry, jobless, or to be left out of society. Therefore we have a greater responsibility to reach back and give to the less fortunate. The Word says, “To whom much is given, much is required.”

Those of us who have been blessed are challenged to give back, not just to sit at our tables at Thanksgiving with our families and have a wonderful meal, and to enjoy the comfort of family and friends. We are called to be equally concerned about those in the cold who have no place to eat or friends to talk with.

We can make a difference; we must make a difference. I challenge you today to reach within to embrace humanity. Someone has said, “If I can help somebody along the way, then my living will not be in vain.” Someone needs your help; help them and your life will be so much richer. There are a few practical things you can do this Thanksgiving — purchase food for a food pantry, cook a meal for a needy family, invite someone to your home for dinner that might need the warmth and friendship of a loved family; visit a nursing home; spend some time with a child who is without parental support; donate good clean clothing to someone in need; practice patience and kindness; forgive someone; the list can go on and on.

Make Thanksgiving Day 2011 your greatest Thanksgiving yet by giving back to others. Keep it real — just put your Humanity in Motion.

 

Rev. Charles Quann is pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Penlyn.

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