Take time this week not just to give thanks, but to live thanks.
That was the message during the annual Du Quoin Community Thanksgiving Service, which was held Sunday at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in downtown Du Quoin.
The interdenominational service was organized by the Du Quoin Ministerial Alliance, and dozens filed into the sanctuary to take part. Ministers from a handful of local churches led the gathered congregation in prayers, readings and songs. A reception at Haffner Hall followed.
The Rev. Tim Woodard of Du Quoin First United Methodist Church delivered the sermon, noting that giving thanks can be far more difficult than asking for blessings in the first place.
"How many times have all of us neglected to thank God for blessings?" Woodard asked. "We're quick to pray for a need, but we're a lot slower to give thanks for needs.
"To be honest, we Christians, especially here in the United States, we're not very good at being thankful."
Woodard said even he as a spiritual leader has an occasional tendency to take things for granted, but it is important for people not just to count their blessings on Thanksgiving. Instead, gratitude should become a more central pillar of everyday life. We may learn to say thanks as small children, Woodard said, but true gratitude runs so much deeper than that early lesson may indicate.
"Most of us learn that pretty much from the time we talk," Woodard said. "You say, 'Mama, Dada,' and they start saying, 'Now, what do you say?' But it's about more than that. It's about making gratitude a way of life -- not just about Thanksgiving, but about 'thanksliving,' giving thanks every day. It's part of a continuing story of what God does for us and what God will continue to for us, and also what God expects from us in return: to love God, to love one another, to be humble.
"We need to recognize where our true blessings come from."