Between Harvest celebrations and Christmas, with all its glitter of fairy lights, stockings and green or white flocked trees, is Thanksgiving. For merely commercial purposes many stores have skipped over Thanksgiving. After October 31, stores were already decked with boughs of holly’ so to speak and store corners had giant, ornamental Christmas trees.
Serious shoppers have already planned to bargain shop on Black Friday. Armed with wallets and purses, they race to the stores as if competing in a 100 yard dash! On arrival they wish the doors would just: Open! Open! Open! Please do not kill each other out there . . . after all it is Christmas!
If that is not bad enough, more and more stores are opening up on what is now called: Grey Thursday. Shopping now begins even earlier! Before we get caught up in the whirlwind of the commercialized Christmas, can we just stop? Go no further! Rewind! Desist! Halt!
Why? Families need to joyfully celebrate, for the whole day, one of the most important, historical, Christian holidays in the month of November, Thanksgiving.
At the first Thanksgiving feast, held by the Pilgrims in 1621, friendly Wampanoag Indians joined the Pilgrims who had stopped to thank their Creator for their abundant blessings. They thanked God for His providential hand on them during a very harsh journey to America, for getting them through the freezing winter and for this new land, full of potential and freedom.
The Indians watched as the Pilgrims bowed their heads, closed their eyes and folded their hands, in prayer. They observed for the first time these new strange people thanking the Creator of heaven and earth. What a wondrous witness of the Gospel and the One True God for their Indians guests to hear about.
It was on October 3, 1863 in Washington D.C. when Abraham Lincoln made his official ‘Proclamation of Thanksgiving’. Here are some excerpts of that historical speech:
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God . . .
I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.
Many people who have settled in America and celebrate Thanksgiving for the first time with families are touched with the warmth of open hospitality and loving hearts of the American people. Willingly and with great generosity they share Christian love and compassion with those who may not have anywhere to go. Those visiting or staying in our country feel welcomed and are given a sense of family and belonging.
Imagine how unique this is to America? So unique, even other countries have followed suit. For those who have never been to a Thanksgiving celebration, it becomes a strong Christian witness. Thanksgiving should be a nationwide outreach to the families, friends and even strangers who do not know the Lord. Thanksgiving’s abundant blessings shared gives witness of our abundant God. May welcomed guests and even strangers take hold of our Christian faith for their own this during this year’s feast.
As you gather around the table to Thank God from whom all blessing flow . . . take time to read the Thanksgiving story with your children and grandchildren.
Have a very blessed Thanksgiving.
Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.