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  • Shawn Thornton

Grateful for a Day of Thanks

Thursday - November 26th

Day 26: Attitude of Gratitude

Scripture to Read Today: Psalm 100

Enter his gates with thanksgiving

and his courts with praise;

give thanks to him and praise his name.

Psalm 100:4


During my high school years, my home church in Northern Indiana gave me incredible opportunities to teach children. One of my regular teaching settings was the kindergarten through second grade Sparks group in our church's weekly Awana Club. During my sophomore year, I had an idea to engage with the kids in a 20 minute teaching on Being Thankful (the week before Thanksgiving).


The idea came as a result of watching an old Addams Family rerun. The ghoulish sitcom about a creepy family included a hand without a body known as "Thing." Thing was in a wooden box sitting on a table. Thing brought the family the mail daily and specifically brought items the Addams Family father, Gomez, requested. The hand would come up out of the box on request, "hear" the request, make a gesture to wait one moment, drop back into the box, and return with scissors, the phone, or some other requested household item.


I recruited my friend, Kevin Warstler, to help me with my lesson for the kindergarten, first, and second grade kids. We put two tables together but left them about a foot apart. We then put two boards spanning the small gap between the tables. Placing table cloths on the tables and the boards made the tables look like they were one table with a hole in the middle. We put a wooden box with no bottom over the hole. It looked like the box used by "Thing" on the Addams Family show.


With about fifty boys and girls present, I took a few minutes to talk about a verse or two from Psalm 100. As I taught about why we should be thankful to God for everything we have in life, I asked the kids to list things they were grateful for. I knocked on the box and introduced them to my guest, "Mr. Hand." Mr. Hand was my friend Kevin's hand. Each time a child mentioned an item they were grateful for, Mr. Hand would gesture that he would find something and would disappear into the box.


While the hand was gone, I interacted with the kids about why they were thankful for their listed item. Kevin used a flashlight and sorted through nearly 100 items we had collected that we thought would represent everything the kids might list in our gratitude lesson. Mr. Hand would return triumphant with something that represented what the kids had mentioned. I would celebrate with the kids that Mr. Hand had been successful, discussed the item, and placed it on the table cloth-covered tables.


If a boy or girl said they were grateful for their family, we had a picture of a family in a frame. We matched the suggestion of food with a couple of apples and oranges in a basket. Being thankful for the sun triggered Mr. Hand to bring up a light bulb. Mentioning a pet produced a stuffed dog. I think you get the idea. The kids loved it. They listed dozens and dozens of things for which we should be grateful. It was a huge success, and Kevin (Mr. Hand) hammed it up big time with the kids.


After reading Psalm 100 today, list on a piece of paper the things for which you are grateful to God. If you are gathered at some point with your young children or grandchildren, ask them to help you make the list. Maybe you can send them on a scavenger hunt to find things representing the stuff mentioned in making the gratitude list.


By the way, my friend Kevin Warstler completed a Ph.D. in Old Testament AND New Testament studies. He teaches at Dallas Theological Seminary and is a critical part of any modern Bible translation team. Kevin is a sought after Hebrew and Greek scholar. He has come along way from playing Mr. Hand and crawling around in the dark under cloth-draped tables!


Happy Thanksgiving! Thank God for the things He has done for you. Praise God for Who He is.

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