Giving Thanks for Thanksgiving
For the first time in my life I don't want to hear Christmas music…
Not yet anyway - and not because I've become a Scrooge or can't stomach any more Holly Jollies, no my issue has to do with the timing. I kid you not, the morning after I took my kids trick or treating, I cranked up some music to start my day - then what to my wondering ears did appear? Tunes about Santa and his eight tiny reindeer!!!
If I have to absorb 5 weeks of Silver Bells and Holy Nights, I will need a serious intervention.
Every year it seems to me that Thanksgiving is increasingly just a thin slice of celebration sandwiched between the massive marketing machines of Halloween and Christmas. It's become a few days of respite for post school/work burnout and pre Christmahanakwanza preparation!
But it hasn't always been this way you know. There was a time when Thanksgiving was a sacred day set aside for so much more than watching the Detroit Lions lose and downing twice your body weight in turkey and stuffing. It was more of a time to remember, reflect, and rejoice in what happened in the Fall of 1621 when the Pilgrims and Native Americans shared a meal as a sacrifice of praise for their survival. The story of that momentous day was passed on to each generation, and in 1777 George Washington made it an official holiday.
But that's not the end of the story for this great celebration, because the uber meal deal day fell by the wayside in the years after President Washington, and the fourth Thursday in November would have stayed just that, had it not been for a brave and persistent woman named Sarah Josepha Hale. When seemingly everyone else in the country forgot about the importance of a national day of thanksgiving, Sarah pursued and promoted the idea unceasingly.
She wrote letters to governors and Presidents. She lobbied in newspapers, magazines and books. She tirelessly sacrificed time and energy in this single pursuit until it finally paid off. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving and since then, every President has followed suit.
But did I mention that it took 17 years for this to happen? Yep. Sarah Hale did not give up with the first, second, or hundredth rejection. In a way, her relentless drive and undaunted persistence mirrored the determination of the original Pilgrims.
The Pilgrims came across the pond for many reasons, one of the most critical being the dream of being able to worship God in whatever way they felt was His calling on their lives. They endured the bitter winters and hostile conditions to fulfill a dream of finishing the race and remaining faithful to the end.
Their resolve was galvanized by their Christian faith. And no doubt in their hardship, they took courage from the following words of the Apostle Paul, penned shortly before his death:
But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don't be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.
As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me-the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing (1 Timothy 4:5-9).
So what about you? You have a more important mission than petitioning presidents or even starting a new nation! You are charged with THE Cause of making disciples who make disciples - an endeavor that will outlast all holidays and every nation on earth.
This Thanksgiving, let's give thanks that we live in a nation where we are free to worship God. But above all other things we are thankful for, let's be intensely grateful that Jesus Christ lived the life we should have lived and died the death we should have died. And because of His sacrifice, we have the joy and the privilege of carrying out the ministry God has given each of us!