GIVE THANKS WITH A GRATEFUL HEART
Princeton Christian Church 24 November 2021
This week is the week we celebrate a time of Thanksgiving. Observing a day of thanks is a beloved tradition in our country. It is vital that we know and understand the how and the why of our observance of this day. In our practice today the day is largely seen as a day off from our jobs, and for many a 4-day weekend.
In its beginning, though people were not concerned about an extra day off work. In 1623, Pilgrims in Plymouth declared a day to thank their God for bringing rain when it looked like their corn crop might wither in a brutal drought. In 1777, in the midst of the Revolutionary War, the members of the Continental Congress declared a day of Thanksgiving for Dec. 18.
We soon will come upon the 400th anniversary of the first Thanksgiving in New England. Remembered and retold as an allegory for perseverance and cooperation, the story of that first Thanksgiving has become an important part of how Americans think about the founding of their country.
As we observe this special day it is a remembrance of those whose boldness and courage forged through to develop this new land into a rich industrious nation of durable people striving for a better life.
They desired to worship God in the way they believed He would honor. It is the giving of thanks that was the focus of that first thanksgiving. It was the giving of thanks to Him who guided them and kept them safe as they sailed across an ocean to find and build a better life for their families.
Today, as we celebrate this day of giving thanks, a most important and highly anticipated event of the day is that time when we gather together with our families for an abundant time of fellowship. For some, it will be a homecoming of sorts. For others, it may be family gathered at a restaurant for a meal together. Sadly, but true, there will be others to whom this day means nothing any different than the day before or the day after.
I think back over the years at Thanksgiving and my family’s gatherings. Back when Grandma and Grandpa were still with us. Cousins and Aunts and Uncles all gathered at the Grandparents’ home. And Grandma always made her Date Nut Pudding. Then thinking back to a little closer time when Mom and Dad were still with us and the gathering included their five children and their children, the Grandchildren. One staple was the Grandma Hale’s Date Nut Pudding which Sandy makes every year to keep the tradition going. And then, as in this year, it became just the 5 children, their children, and their grandchildren. The time we spend together in the home of our youngest sibling is as sweet as it was at Grandma and Grandpa’s home, with a taste of bittersweet as we miss those who now are rest in Jesus.
As families gather to celebrate the day, we should pause to reflect on the blessings we have in our lives. Sometimes we experience hardships, disappointments, and setbacks. And it is easy to become bitter and complain, crying “Woe is me, what a wretched man I am.” “Why do these things always happen to me?” During those times giving thanks is the last thing we want to do. But, if we are truly honest with ourselves, we will understand that the life we have comes from God. He never promised we would wake up every day to a perfect world where everybody loves me and agrees with me in everything and every issue.
We will become stronger persons when we can get ahold of that Pilgrim spirit and know that the bad comes with the good. That attitude and spirit comes to us through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. If we can catch that truth at this time of Thanksgiving we can give thanks, as the Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 4:18 – “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
May God bless each of you individually and as a family during this season of thanks-giving.
Gary’s Wednesday Word