Year B Thanksgiving Ephesians 5
In All Things Be Thankful
Ephesians 5:20

Back during the dark days of 1929, a group of ministers in the Northeast, all graduates of the Boston School of Theology, gathered to discuss how they should conduct their Thanksgiving Sunday services. Things were about as bad as they could get, with no sign of relief. The bread lines were depressingly long, the stock market had plummeted, and the term Great Depression seemed an apt description for the mood of the country. The ministers thought they should only lightly touch upon the subject Thanksgiving in deference to the human misery all about them. After all, there was to be thankful for. But it was Dr. William L. Stiger, pastor of a large congregation in the city that rallied the group. This was not the time, he suggested, to give mere passing mention to Thanksgiving, just the opposite. This was the time for the nation to get matters in perspective and thank God for blessings always present, but perhaps suppressed due to intense hardship.

I suggest to you the ministers struck upon something. The most intense moments of thankfulness are not found in times of plenty, but when difficulties abound. Think of the Pilgrims that first Thanksgiving. Half their number dead, men without a country, but still there was thanksgiving to God. Their gratitude was not for something but in something. It was that same sense of gratitude that lead Abraham Lincoln to formally establish the first Thanksgiving Day in the midst of national civil war, when the butcher’s list of casualties seemed to have no end and the very nation struggled for survival.

Perhaps in your own life, right now, intense hardship. You are experiencing your own personal Great Depression. Why should you be thankful this day? May I suggest three things?

  1. We must learn to be thankful or we become bitter.
  2. We must learn to be thankful or we will become discouraged.
  3. We must learn to be thankful or we will grow arrogant and self-satisfied.

A Squirrely Holiday
Matthew 6:25-33

It is usually not a compliment when someone is described as “squirrely.”

"Squirreliness" isn't a description of an industrious little rodent. No, it is a commentary on the creature's favorite food. If you are "squirrelly," you are a little bit NUTS.

Thanksgiving may be a good time to rehabilitate the squirrel, appreciating "squirreliness" for all it strengths and insights. It is time for a "squirrel theology."*

"Squirrel theology" is in contrast to "dog" or "cat" theology. You can buy T-shirts that ponder both of those. Or go to the website

"Dog Theology" goes like this: "You feed me. You pet me. You shelter me. You love me. You must be God!"

"Cat Theology" goes like this: "You feed me. You pet me. You shelter me. You love me. I must be God."

A Far Side cartoon once depicted a scientist announcing a breakthrough in understanding cat language: "They say only two things: 'Where's my dinner?" and "Everything here is mine.'"

So what do squirrels do with their lives that puts them on a different theological plane than dogs or cats?

First, consider that squirrels are so good at what they do they have generated a whole anti-squirrel industry — the manufacture of "squirrel-proof" bird feeders. If you have ever attempted to feed just birds and not squirrels from your backyard feeder, you know that no one has yet succeeded in creating a truly "squirrel-proof" feeder. Baffles don't baffle them for long. Weighted feeding slots don't get them discouraged.

Squirrels aren’t rocket scientists. But they use all their squirrely attributes to get to the prize. They dig in with their toes. They balance on precarious perches. They use their tails like anchors. They use their front paws like a surgeon’s skilled hands. The squirrel's tactics aren't necessarily perfect, but they are always persistent.

All squirrels antics are centered on a single-minded purpose. NUTS! And because of that single-minded purpose, they find joy in every moment as though it is the only one that matters. By the way, I think the 4-letter words NUTS is an acronym for Never Underestimate The Squirrel. This Thanksgiving I want to drive you NUTS . . . so you will live a NUTS Life . . . a life that . . . presents Leonard Sweet