An attitude of gratitude

A homily at Thanksgiving by The Rev'd Glenn Empey

A very Happy Thanksgiving to you. I wish each and everyone of you a Happy Thanksgiving.

This is a special time of the year particularly in Canada. The trees begin to turn to beautiful colours. You hear the rustle of fallen leaves on the ground when you walk through them. Some days, you can even smell them in the air. There’s a sense of change in the air. The shadows are different, longer. And the sun in the late afternoon takes on a more golden hue. There are many things for which to be thankful. The changing season is a call to pay attention, to think about things for which to be thankful.

So there are some obvious and important ones: being thankful for loved ones and being thankful for memories and happy times of years past. Friends and good company. Being thankful for ones health and also for adequate medical care. Having ample food to put on the table and having enough funds to get by reasonably well. There are many things for which to be thankful. We just have to take some time to recognize them and to count our blessings. In the global north, we are in the very top percentiles of well-being. That realization adds another dimension.

There may be other items for which to be thankful that we don’t think about so much such as:

  • Gravy on the turkey
  • Stuffing
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Pineapple on ham
  • Mint sauce for lamb
  • Rakes
  • Leaf blowers
  • Pumpkins and pies
  • Sunny fall days
  • A cup of coffee that appears magically
  • Grey cup football
  • Central heating
  • A good wood pile
  • Music, choirs, and pipe organs
  • Musicians
  • Grandchildren and great grandchildren
  • And that they have their own homes
  • Fall decorations in church
  • A new sound system
  • And the people who make it happen

When you pause and take a few conscious moments to reflect, there are many, many things for which to be thankful. Thanksgiving is about taking time to count blessings.

And the Christian journey of faith is about thanksgiving. It is entirely about giving thanks.

The principal part of the Eucharist that we celebrate is called the Great Thanksgiving. It begins with the words of an ancient prayer that the Jewish father said at table with his family back in Jesus’ day. The meaning of the word itself, “Eucharist”, is “giving thanks”. You and I are called to give thanks not just at Thanksgiving but throughout the year. And we do that each time we celebrate the Eucharist. We give thanks.

It has to do with a certain kind of perspective. I think when we’re consciously thankful about things, we do have a different kind of outlook on life and the world. The Christian life is about being thankful, consciously thankful. It is having a different kind of attitude. An attitude of gratitude.

Having an attitude of gratitude is seeing the big picture. It’s living the big picture.

In the scheme of things you and are but specks across the aeons of time. We’re finite as bits of dust. But we do fit into the big picture. We do have a place in God’s ever-evolving creation. We contribute to his creation. That may be small but we do make a difference. We make a difference through sharing love, compassion and forgiveness. We do make a difference in modelling acceptance and compassion. We do make a difference in caring for the poor and those in need.

All of that is empowered by having an attitude of gratitude in being part of God’s creation, in being known and called by name, being valued in God’s sight. Realizing that is recognizing blessing number one … and being thankful.

It’s a framework for life. It’s an attitude and a perspective that offers a way of re-focusing.

So being thankful is not just something for one day a year or one special long weekend. It’s for the whole year and we can use the holiday as a reminder that highlights the importance of always being thankful.

Being thankful is an attitude toward life. It is an attitude of gratitude. It’s an attitude that re-frames how we see the world, how we see others. Actually, I think it’s an attitude that changes us.

Try this sometime: when something is troubling you, take a moment and count some of your blessings. See if that changes your frame of mind, your outlook, how you’re seeing things. It won’t  make what’s troubling vanish but it will give you a new framework for approaching it. I’m pretty sure of that.

Try it also when something is not troubling you!

Having an attitude of gratitude is having an outlook on the world that changes us. That’s why being thankful is so much part of the Christian journey.

So a very Happy Thanksgiving to you, each and everyone.

Be thankful for turkey and gravy and cranberries and stuffing and pumpkin pie or for whatever fare you’ll enjoy this weekend.

And … remember to be thankful when you have the leftovers. And when they’re all gone, just remember that every day is a day for thanksgiving.

That’s the attitude of gratitude.

Once again, may this be for you a happy day of giving thanks -- today and every day.


  1. David Hooper on 7 October 2018 at 10:58 PM

    Well said Glenn, I miss seeing the colours but only a little, actually there’s a little of that here but as the dead coloured leaves fall off they are replaced by new green ones, I saw a most remarkably beautiful tree the other day that the top had turned a brilliant red, hopefully I’ll be able to take a picture of it before the leaves fall.

    • Father Glenn on 8 October 2018 at 12:57 PM

      Blessings, David,

      I hope all is well and that you also have celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving!


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