There are a host of Scriptures that enjoin us to give thanks to God. In the midst of prayer, when we are asking Him for things, we should always be mindful of what He has already accomplished for us, what He is doing on our behalf, and what He has promised in the future lest we seem ungrateful. In the midst of an ungrateful culture possessed with a sense of entitlement, bound by materialism, and blinded by hedonism, the Christian should be distinguished by an “attitude of gratitude.”
Of the ten legally recognized Federal holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas are the only two that have a religious heritage. Although the term “holiday” is a compound derivative of the term “Holy Day,” the other eight federal holidays are secular in nature in that they merely memorialize an important event in our nation’s history, or they recognize the contribution a group or individual has made to our country. Calling them secular is not to slight their importance. The secular holidays help form our country’s national identity predicated on our history. And our history is “His story” displaying the sovereign hand of God shaping our nation’s destiny and its role in the history of mankind.
But our two religious holidays are significant as well. Christmas is a decidedly Christian holiday and while thanksgiving for God’s providence has a long established tradition in the Jewish economy of worship, but in this country its practice has been adopted and sustained by the Christian community. Historically speaking, it was the Pilgrims of Plymouth that introduced its practice to the New World and whose purpose for settling here was declared in the Mayflower Compact. These Christian pioneers made it clear that their colony had been “undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith.”
The Thanksgiving tradition has a rich history here in the United States. Recognizing this, in 1863 in the midst of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving on the last Thursday of November, and the day became an annual national tradition celebrated every year since.
Wikipedia says Thanksgiving Day “was a holiday to express thankfulness, gratitude, and appreciation to God, family and friends for which all have been blessed of material blessings and relationships. Traditionally, it has been a time to give thanks for a bountiful harvest. This holiday has since moved away from its religious roots.” Given the distractions afforded by our affluence many probably have “moved away from its religious roots.”
The truth remains that we are still dependent on twelve inches of topsoil and some rain at the right time or we would all starve. Would it not be wise to return to our “religious roots?” As we spend time feasting with family and friends I pray we take time to give thanks to the One who provides us with everything.
“Let us enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise,” Psalm 100:4.