Learning to give thanks.

First published November 21, 2012.

“I need your help again,” I told Nehemiah. “I’m having a really hard time with Thanksgiving.”

“Levites,” he said. I think that’s what he said. His mouth was full of early pumpkin pie. He finished his bite and took a sip of coffee. “Go find a Levite. They know all about thanksgiving.”

I sat quietly. There were many threads running through my head. I wasn’t sure where to find a Levite. I was sure that we all were supposed to give thanks without any help. Paul had told a whole church of people to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” He was following the example of Jesus who always gave thanks before breaking bread, including the bread he broke and handed to the disciples saying, “This is my body.”

“That’s a pretty powerful example of giving thanks in difficult circumstance,” Nehemiah said. He startled me. I keep forgetting he can tell what I’m thinking.

“It’s okay to find help from other people to guide your thinking and thanking. For me, the Levites were people who had made it a point to find words for talking to God. It’s not that they were more spiritual, or closer to God. But in the same way that if you spend a lot of time making coffee, hopefully you learn to make coffee well, if you spend time giving thanks to God, you learn to concentrate, to not be distracted by feelings, to see reasons for thanks, to celebrate as well as you possibly can. That’s why, when we finished building the wall and wanted to celebrate,

the Levites were sought out from where they lived and were brought to Jerusalem to celebrate joyfully the dedication with songs of thanksgiving and with the music of cymbals, harps and lyres.”

Nehemiah leaned back. “Find the people who give thanks often and follow their lead,” he said, and took another bite.

May I mention a couple of shopping things today?

Over the weekend my new book went live in Kindle format. A Great Work: A Conversation With Nehemiah For People Who (want to be) Doing Great Works will also be available in print and on the Nook. I’ll let you know when all the formats are available.

And I wrote a Kindle reader for the 25 days of December. It’s only available for the Kindle: Anticipation: an Advent Reader.

And if you’ve read either of these and found them valuable, I’d be grateful to you for mentioning them to others (or reviewing them).

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About Jon Swanson

Social media chaplain. Author of "Lent For Non-Lent People" and "A Great Work: A Conversation With Nehemiah For People (Who Want To Be) Doing Great Works." Writer of 300wordsaday.com. I help people understand. Understand some of the Bible. Understand what Lent can be about. Understand what it means to follow.

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