If I had a favorite holiday, Thanksgiving would be it. It’s less commercialized, a day off the normal grind, and a signal that the end of the year is near. It’s often best spent with others, and the sporting events are the whip cream on the pie (not to mention the mouth-watering menu defies the belt size)!
Other than a holiday, let’s ask: is thanksgiving a feeling or wish? Can you say ‘thanks’ without directing the gratitude somewhere else? We tend to express thanks for something or someone. We’ve all heard the cliché “Thank God/goodness it’s Friday.” But I’ve never heard ‘Thank Friday for leading me into a two-day period wherein I don’t have to work’ or ‘Thank you, car, for getting me safely and warmly to my destination’. Whether realized or not, the point is that thanksgiving is always pointed at something.
The expression of gratitude for some material or event is to acknowledge that there is a Source behind the object of thanks. Thus, thankfulness cannot be merely a feeling or a wish. Whether it’s a simple ‘thank you’, hand motion, song, poem, post, letter, etc., the act of thanking acknowledges that someONE has brokered a benefit for your good, and that someONE is God himself. Giving thanks is echoing to yourself and others one of the common yet majestic refrains of the Bible: “Oh give thanks to the LORD for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.”
Yet, thanksgiving for the Christian is also a lifestyle. “No other religion in the world has emphasized so insistently and incessantly on thanksgiving as the normal posture of the Christian heart” (Pastor David Sunday). We don’t have to wait for a season to be more aware of our blessings. Remember that whether or not your national history has pilgrims, natives, cornucopia, cranberries and turkey in it, every day for the Christian is “thanksgiving” because every single hour we have reason to thank God for how truly good he is.
As a church, let’s resolve to be constantly on the lookout for signs of God’s grace in each other, in our homes, jobs and schools. It’ll get contagious. Mumbling and negativity will eventually shrivel and be gobbled up by sumptuous expressions of grace.
P.S. For a historical reflection on what Thanksgiving is, check out Steve Nichols's blog post over at Ligonier!