I rolled out of bed at the 6:15 a.m. alarm and went outside to see the blood red moon in early October. This event promised to show the full moon eclipsed by the earth’s shadow and turning red in the process.

I stood in the middle of the street and could not see the moon at all. The trees in my back yard completely hid the moon.

I jumped into my car and raced down the street toward the neighborhood clubhouse and an open field. As I turned the corner and headed west, there it was in all of its glorious color: the blood red moon.

I pulled into the clubhouse parking lot and leapt out of the car. It was unbelievable. I am a real romantic for events like this. I am in complete awe at the marvelous universe our God has created.

I know all the scientific reasons for the eclipse and the color of the moon during an eclipse, but it does not lessen my delight and childlike thrill at the glory and splendor of this heavenly sight.

I thought to myself, “What an awesome God. What a spectacle and a joy to observe.”

I still get dizzy thinking about that big red disk in the sky on that cool October morning.

Moments like these remind us why we take time for thanksgiving. Not just the holiday called Thanksgiving, but the practice of giving thanks.

When we give thanks, we keep our hearts tender and our joy close. When we give thanks, we pause to appreciate and recognize the wonderful events and scenes that surround us.

When we give thanks, we lose ourselves in the presence of others and the Almighty. When we give thanks, we move toward that heavenly peace that is true and pure joy.

Let me give thanks for a few things I have observed recently:

1. The great staff and congregation with whom I minister.

We have seen several baptisms recently and new people joining the church. I am grateful that the Lord continues to add to his church, allowing us to sustain and expand our ministry efforts.

2. The construction of an interfaith Habitat House in our congregation’s neighborhood and our faithful members who show up weekly to help a family complete their dream of home ownership. It is rewarding to watch the house rise from the slab like the moon rising on the horizon.

3. The feeding ministry our congregation began in the spring.

We are all shocked at how quickly this ministry has become one of our best-supported and best-serving ministries in the church.

Since the church voted to feed the homeless, the church has gone from giving away 757 pounds of food in June to giving 2,510 pounds of food in September.

We serve food at the homeless shelter to 80 to 100 people each time, and we feed 60 to 70 at church on Wednesday nights.

We give out food boxes to needy families and continue to give out lunch bags to transients that pass through the area. In September alone, our church fed 568 people.

Not one dime of the food funds comes from the general church budget. Donations to the benevolence fund, food grants and discount prices from a local food bank enable us to feed so many for under $500 a month. That is something for which to give God thanks.

I could go on and mention many more things for which I give thanks – my family, a new grandson, my wife, and the list could go on.

We can all give thanks for God’s creation, such as a blood red moon, for God’s presence in the daily events and people he brings our way, for the positive impact our churches have on their communities, for the often unnoticed little things that speak of his presence, and for myriad personal experiences.

Thanksgiving draws us into a spiritual reality that eclipses the unpleasant and mundane. We can live a life of satisfaction because we can give thanks.

Gregory C. Magruder is the senior pastor of Parkview Baptist Church, Gainesville, Florida.

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