Yes, today’s the day that we celebrate Thanksgiving – at least officially – for 2015. Facebook has been filled with posts from people who have shared pictures and notes articulating things that they are grateful for and most of us are quick to acknowledge the importance of others in our lives. We are a little slower to anger today, most of us are able to take it a little easier if we wish – and we are grateful for the police, members of the medical community, fire department, EMT’s and others who must work today to provide protection and infrastructure to the community so the rest of us can rest assured that should we need assistance, help is nearby.
Here in Indianapolis, the kitchen on the campus of Butler University was used to prepare an anticipated 40,000 Thanksgiving Day meals for those in need – even though the ministry providing the feast fell more than $5000 short of its goal for raising enough money for the necessary food. It is also the day when other folks volunteer to help in all kinds of soup kitchens and other service areas, becoming the hands and feet of Christ in the community.
While I admire the desire to sacrifice time and/or money to provide this hands-on assistance, I am concerned that people only want to help on these special days – and not when the help is most needed – when everyone else goes home after the holiday season and the non-profits are once again struggling for volunteer support.
Most of us are also pretty quick to reach out and remember departed loved ones who used to be a part of our Thanksgiving traditions. We pause to reflect on stories of their love and value to the family. Too soon they are gone… Another historical component of the day has to do with the first Thanksgiving back in the days of the pioneers who gave thanks for a bountiful harvest. However, it is probable that those 52 settlers, back in 1621 somewhere near Plimouth Plantation, MA, had quite a different meal that the romanticized feast we all grew up reading about.
The modernized version that has led to the current version of Thanksgiving we now celebrate really didn’t come into existence until 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln declared that the last Thursday of November would be set aside “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” And it has been that way ever since. Surprisingly, in this time of such political “correctness” people still offer prayers of gratitude and thanksgiving to God, just as happened on the famous Norman Rockwell covers of the Saturday Evening Post – symbolic of heartland America.
The verse tonight is a simple one – an acknowledgement that man gives thanks to the Father. We are told in Psalm 69:30, “I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.” My encouragement this evening is that we serve a worthy God who blesses us far beyond anything that we could ever deserve or expect. My prayer is that you will take time, on a daily basis, to give thanks to God for the blessings that He bestows on us each day of our lives. And that as a part of your gratitude you will consider assisting those less fortunate by demonstrating acts of kindness and appreciation at times in addition to the traditional holiday season. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…