Happy Thanksgiving! This Thanksgiving most Americans will be celebrating a holiday that dates to the founding of our nation. Like most holidays it has developed out of that first Thanksgiving. This national holiday did not start as a holiday but simply as a time to thank our Creator for his provision, protection and blessing. This reminds me that Thanksgiving is more than an American Holiday, the meal, the parades, the games or even the launch of Christmas sales. It reminds us that it is a time to stop and give thanks to the Lord for His blessing in our lives. My thoughts this Thanksgiving have focused on two oversights of us Americans.
The first is that Thanksgiving is for every living human being. I am afraid all too often our thinking is narrow minded. America may be one of the greatest nations, if not the greatest of our time. Yet, given the scope of the world population we represent only 4% of the world’s population (330 Million out of 7.5 billion people). Yes, Thanksgiving is an American Holiday, but it reminds us of a Creator that blesses all people. Jesus, in admonishing His followers to “love their enemies” is a call to be like the Creator. “So that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:45) The greatest gift of course is the birth of Jesus. I am reminded of the angelic announcement at the birth of Jesus, “And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”(Luke 2:10) What we need to grasp is something that needs to be a part of our lives every day and a part of our world.
The second thought is that we need to encourage thanksgiving. Our attitudes and actions towards others can move the needle of thanksgiving of the hearts of those around us. John challenges us to be people of action. “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”(1 John 3:18) Now, of course, our words, which include the words we choose, how we say them, along with our body language, do matter as well. The followers in the city of Corinth were reminded of the impact of their actions as Christians. “You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” (2 Corinthians 9:11)
It is the last phrase of the previous verse that calls us to action this holiday season “will result in thanksgiving to God.” Let me encourage you this Thanksgiving to be a person that stimulates the thanksgiving of others. Thanksgiving is for those that reject Jesus because they still enjoy his blessing. Thanksgiving is also a call to minister to others by leading them to give thanks. This can be done by sharing and through our actions.
Have you ever noticed that almost all of our holidays incorporate some aspect of giving? It is because giving of ourselves and our resources, as Paul reminded the Corinthians (and us), promotes thanks to the Creator!
-Pastor Joe Parkinson