It’s that time of year again. In the midst of all that our world has experienced and continues to wrestle with, we are invited to the table to give thanks together. We pause to celebrate the blessings and to hear again God’s invitation to be a people who bless. 

Before the arrival of European settlers, First Nations across Turtle Island— how some Indigenous Peoples refer to North America—had traditions of giving thanks. They celebrated surviving winter and the harvest of crops and game through feasting, prayer, dance, potlatch and other ceremonies, depending on the peoples giving thanks.

According to some historians, the first “Canadian” Thanksgiving occurred in 1578, when English explorer Martin Frobisher and his crew gave thanks for their safe arrival in then Newfoundland— now Nunavut—with a meal of salt beef, biscuits and mushy peas, and observed communion.

Thanksgiving coincides with the harvest in much of the country. Although the day set aside as an expression of thanksgiving to God may not be the focus of all Canadians, the ideas of being thankful, of spending time with family and sharing a delicious meal, are still embraced by many.

As we pause to give thanks, we recognize again that we are a blessed people. With that blessing comes opportunity and responsibility. From God’s promise to Abraham, a rhythm is established: blessed to be a blessing. “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing” (Genesis 12:2). The blessings we have received, even as we reflect upon this past year, position us to bless others. God has blessed not simply for our comfort and enjoyment alone, but to reach out to bless others.

In the midst of God’s blessings upon the Army and its soldiers, Catherine Booth recognized the risk of losing focus on others. As a truly blessed people and Army, it may be timely to hear her words again: “You are not here in the world for yourself. You have been sent here for others. The world is waiting for you!”

This year, let us share with one another not only that for which we are thankful, but also how we can and will bless others out of the blessings we have received. The world—just outside your door and across the globe—is waiting for you.

Photo: Brent Hofacker/

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