Yesterday we began a series examining the roots of our American Thanksgiving holiday. We were reminded that pilgrims came to this land to “fulfill a fateful mission to build an ideal Christian commonwealth.” Upon arrival, however, they faced difficulty, but eventually were miraculously blessed by Native Americans who helped them learn to survive harsh new realities. Together with the natives, those pilgrims celebrated a 3-day harvest festival, inspired by the Jewish feast of Sukkot.
Jews celebrate Sukkot as part of their remembrance of God redeeming them from Egyptian exile. The pilgrims, in a sense exiles in their own right, celebrated their religious freedom by giving thanks to God. But,what was the core of their thanks?
In Scripture, when the Lord wants to emphasize something, He repeats it. There is a fitting passage that appears five times in God’s Holy Word: “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever.” (1 Chronicles 16:34, Psalm 106:1, Psalm 107:1, Psalm 118:1, 29, Psalm 136:1-3)
In each case, it is clear God’s love for us is the primary reason to give thanks to Him! It’s not because of the material things we have, or what we have achieved…it is because of HIS great love for us! The ultimate expression of God’s steadfast love toward us is Jesus the Messiah! That is cause for great thanksgiving!
Now, think back to that first Thanksgiving. Who was perhaps the key figure in it all? How about the Native American, Squanto, a young tribesman who had been taken into slavery by an Englishman (thus, knew how to speak English), AND he understood that Jesus was the ultimate expression of God’s great love. That Christian Native American was very instrumental in sharing Christ’s love, which ultimately led to the celebration of Thanksgiving!
Food for thought…Is our celebration focused on Christ’s love for us, or upon the material things and/or achievements we have enjoyed this year?
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Check back in the morning for a fresh idea to bring extra blessing to this Thanksgiving Day!