What Thanksgiving has become and what it was intended to be are polar opposites.
The Original plan was a day to stop and give thanks to God for all of the many blessings that He bestowed upon those who have accepted Him and made Him the King of their lives.
Historians are not very clear regarding the exact events of the first Thanksgiving or how it came about. Some visions that they see, are that the settlers in the colonies at some point, had several days in a row where they ceased from their labors to praise God for their very survival. The few who survived the hunger and brutal winter were very glad to be alive. Another life threatening and frigid winter was about to begin. They knew that the only thing that made their existence possible was their faith.
Some believe that the culmination of the days of praise and worship was a feast of celebration which included many foods raised with the help of Native American Indians. It is said that the Indians slaughtered deer and brought venison so that their would be meat to supply much needed proteins.
The point being that there was absolutely no guarantee of survival in the harsh wilderness. The reason that the western europeans emigrated to America was that they wanted to live in a land where Jesus was exalted above all things. They wanted to live lives of obedience to God’s Word, lives of peace and prosperity which Jesus provided for them. They wanted to use the free gift of His Faith to produce the life of joy, happiness, contentment, love, kindness, generosity, caring and peace that He had promised and given them.
Not only so, but their primary objective was to spread the Gospel of Jesus around the countryside. The unexpected hardships of hunger, illness, fear, anxiety and worry brought a heavy toll on them. Their only hope was to praise, glorify, trust, adhere to and rely on God in the person of Jesus. Their minds were not polluted with white noise such as broadcast news, social media, newspapers, magazines and such. They had never seen a movie or a hologram. Medicine was made from herbs, spices, oils and other homeopathic recipes. Some worked, others made the patient terminally ill. The only medicine that was reliable was the Gospel of Jesus, and it never failed.
It was easy for the first settlers to trust God. They had no other choice. Their lives depended on the relationship they forged with the living God.
Fast forward to today.
Thanksgiving is now, a four day weekend PATAY! No work, football, alcohol, parades, lighting of the great public Christmas trees, visiting friends and loved ones. Thanksgiving is about consumption of the food that is as easy to get as going to the Grocery Store. Speaking of stores, its about bargain hunting to the point of brutality and danger. Some rise as early as 1 or 2am to rush to engage themselves in the mania, known as Black Friday. They put their bodies and very lives at risk on that day, in order to save $40 dollars on their Christmas purchases.
While the Mom is engaged in brutal hand to hand combat at the bargain stores, Dad is at home trying to relate to the kids he rarely sees. They are entrenched in video games and he is trolling the net.
Some turn it into a good day. They feed the homeless or the elderly or the sick. as a way of expressing their gratitude for the blessings bestowed upon them. Some perform other acts of generosity and kindness.
For the most part,God is banished from the festivities. That is of course with the exception of the ubiquitous and mandatory pre- thanksgiving dinner prayer which is led by somebody who goes to church or the oldest patriarch or matriarch in the family, often it is delivered by some besotted relative who wouldn’t know Jesus from the turkey on the table.
It is an unwritten law that the prayer may last no more than a few moments, that the hungry participants should not be diverted from their deranged gorging. Many fill their plates with several pounds of food and scarf it down ferociously. It is amazing to watch this strange behavior which is not very different from the way one acts at the Golden Corral.
Their is some nexus that says, ‘get your money’s worth” that drives folks to a frenzy. So it is with the thanksgiving feast. The results are reliable and vary only slightly from one to another. Bloating, Gas, Explosive eliminations, L-Triptophan ingestion induced unconsciousness, cramps and often nausea follow the great meal. Uncle Ned eats the most and suffers the worst. Ned makes the entire family pay the price for his uncontrolled food lust.
Quickly, no one is in the mood for helping the host repair the damage to the home and kitchen. The desire to rush home to bed or the commode overcomes the requisite participation in the repairs. Soon there is only aunt Harriet and Uncle Bob left alone with the mess. But who cares, we had to leave, it was a physiological emergency, right?
Or maybe not.
Use your imagination for a moment. What if we actually made Thanksgiving a day of giving thanks?
Imagine awakening Thursday morning and penning a gratitude list. A list on a legal pad of all of the things that our Love driven Father has given us freely.
What if on this day we sequestered ourselves and our families from any but those who choose to give praise to God. What if we avoided alcohol, drugs, gossip, backbiting, the trauma that holidays bring to many, the cares of this world etc. What if we wiped our minds, souls and spirits clean
of any thoughts other than how breathtakingly blessed we are.
What if we tabled our family feuds and enmity and gathered lovingly to heap gratitude on our Father. What if we all read our gratitude lists to each other and to Jesus who is always with us. What if we sat in silent contemplation of our magnificent Father and His glory? What would it be like if we followed the recommendation of Paul our God selected teacher, and gave PRAISE, LAUDATION AND EULOGY to the One who loved us so much that He gave everything He had, to ransom us for and to Himself?
Praise, Laudation and Eulogy are not hurry up so we can eat, prayers! Imagine giving a eulogy at the memorial service, of a great leader and wonderful person. Would you shorten that eulogy to a few moments of drunken or sober blather?
How would praise, laudation and eulogy sound? Try this on for size:
“The Lord is my shepherd!
I shall not want!
He makes me to lie down in green pastures!
He leads me beside the STILL waters!
He restores my soul!
He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His names sake!
Yes, even though I walk through the SHADOW of death, I shall fear no evil.
For YOU are with me!!!
Your Rod and Your Staff They comfort me!
(His Word and the Holy Spirit)
You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies!
You anoint my head with (healing) oils, until my chin cup runs over.
Surely, Goodness and Mercy shall follow me, all of the days of my life!
And I shall live in the House of the Lord forever!”
The 23rd Psalm is not a funeral message!!!! It is the confession of David about His King and his relationship to his King. It is a declaration of how much David trusted, appreciated, loved and honored His Father. You could use this one, but God seeks YOUR confession.
Wouldn’t Thanksgiving day be awesome if it really was a full day dedicated to thanking our real Daddy?
I believe that you have been blessed by this teaching and that you have passed it to another who will be blessed.
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Pastor Allen Fleming
Throne of Grace Ministries