Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. It was always a day for family— the whole family—coming together for a feast of nearly all of my favorite foods, especially my mother’s pumpkin pies. Yummmmm! Alas, I find myself wondering if Thanksgiving is becoming the forgotten holiday, sandwiched between Halloween and “Black Friday”… I mean Christmas.
Certainly, that was never the case for those first Christians. Their whole lives were centered on “an attitude of gratitude,” and not just for the material things they had. The Apostle Paul put it this way: “Speak to one another… sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything…” (Ephesians 5:19- 20). Another time, he even says that we should be thankful in all circumstances!
Yes, there is much for which to be thankful. Indeed, we could spend a lot of time just trying to count all the “things” in our lives that come as blessing. But you know, I don’t think God is as interested in us counting our blessings as He is in how we express our thanksgiving! In that sense, as nice as it is to gather around a feast with family and friends on a certain day of the year, “thanksgiving” happens all through the year. Our sharing and giving, our caring and service, acts of worship and witness—aren’t these the expressions of our thanksgiving that our loving Father loves to see?
Two thousand years ago, before there were church buildings, it was common practice for Christians to gather in homes, or caves, or wherever they could be safe. In coming together, they would worship and pray and sing hymns. And then they would eat together. This was a special meal. They called it the Eucharist, which means “give thanks.” It was their way of remembering that Jesus had offered himself up so that they could have life… life abundant. It was their thanksgiving meal.
Many centuries later, we read about another group of faithful people who gathered around a table in a new land to share in prayer and thanksgiving. They had barely managed to survive that first harsh winter—many of them didn’t. But still, they remembered God… and the seeds of our modern day holiday were planted.
However we choose to celebrate– or are able to celebrate—may it be a time for cherished memories and blessed moments… and a time to give thanks to a great and mightily
generous God… from whom all blessings flow!
In the love of Christ,