Thoughts on Thanksgiving


What does Thanksgiving mean to you?

If your answer includes turkey dinner with cranberries, sweet and mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie, those things certainly add to the celebration, as does gathering with family and friends. I hope it goes deeper though!

A bit of internet magic would suggest this tradition of a day of Thanksgiving goes back to 1620, to a place called Plymouth Rock Massachusetts, and first celebrated by 102 passengers who had boarded a small ship, the Mayflower, and sailed from Southampton England to a new land. It was first officially "adopted" as an annual holiday in 1817 in New York, and President Lincoln declared it a national holiday in 1863.

Some would suggest it is a biblical holiday, and while the giving of thanks is absolutely biblical, a recognized day as such is not found in the New Testament nor commanded to be celebrated.

Probably without any doubt, I'd be correct in saying our list of things we are thankful for today would differ from that of those on the Mayflower in many respects, yet likely be the same in some ways. In my opinion, those things we might be alike in would be things centered around Christ, and our Heavenly Father.

Our 2019 world would differ in many ways from the world of the 1600's, and our earthly necessities are met in differing ways now. For instance, we buy our turkey at the supermarket for Thanksgiving and don't have to spend the previous day hunting it. Being thankful for jobs, family, financial stability, friends, church, homes, food etc., is certainly appropriate as we give thanks to God at any time, and we should be thankful all the time, not just one day a year.

But those other things, those things they were thankful for regarding life itself, the hope of eternal life, and the blessings of being in Christ back then are the same we are thankful for today. We may receive worldly blessings differently now, but the Giver of those blessings hasn't changed, nor has the undeniable fact that spiritual blessings are much more precious than all the rest.

God loved us and sent Jesus to save us, (John 3:16). Jesus lived a perfect life, one that was worthy of being given in our place for our sins to satisfy the punishment that we deserved, (2 Cor 5:21, 1 Peter 2:22, Heb 4:15). Christ went to the cross, and bore our punishment and died for our sins, (Heb 7:27, 1 Peter 2:24). God (and Christ) did this for us for a hope of eternal life with them, (Titus 1:2). Heaven is our home, and it was the plan of God from the beginning, (John 14:3) because He loves us and wants us to be part of His eternal family, (Titus 3:7).

Tomorrow as we celebrate Thanksgiving, for certain, let us be thankful that we live in the best country in the world, with the most freedoms anywhere, with the best health care systems, the best food production/distribution system and best technology known to man. Let us thank God for our houses, jobs, cars, city or towns, friends, and certainly for our degree of health. Even more important are the church, immediate family, and then that which trumps everything else, that Jesus Christ died for you and me, and that through Him and the grace He offers, by faith and obedience, we have that blessed hope (assurance) of eternal life with God.

Happy Thanksgiving.