(This was originally written in 2008.)
Today is Thanksgiving. This is not a Greek word meaning "sales tomorrow, football tonight". It is two words run together and should be a time of reflection as well as of family and/or friends.
Mr. Turkey is probably not so thankful that an oven will warm him today. We, ourselves, are thankful the temperature is going up to 48 degrees today (it is 35 right now, but I am grateful it is above freezing), because our heater went out yesterday and the repairperson won't be coming until tomorrow afternoon. But we are grateful we own a lot of blankets.
Actually, my wife cooked the turkey yesterday. Usually we have my parents here for Thanksgiving. But my dad is 90 and my mom 88 and they didn't want to make the car trip here, especially since they would be going home after dark. They use to take us out to a restaurant on this day, but since my daughters generally work at the shelters on Thanksgiving (they volunteer so others can spend the day with their families) it makes it hard to schedule a reservation.
So to solve this, my wife suggested we take the dinner to them. So she and the kids have prepared the meal ahead and later today, when my daughters get home from taking care of the animals, we will pack up the car and head north, thankful that we all can get together once more. Thankful the kids will be home in time to do so. Thankful my parents at their age are independent and healthy. Thankful my parent's home has heat. (Right: My parents in 2008)
I'm thankful, my friends, to have met you through this Internet and Blogging.
We talk about the First Thanksgiving of the Pilgrims and the proclamation of Abraham Lincoln in 1863. (For a thorough history of Thanksgiving in America, go to Jeff Jenkins' "Thoughts and Theology" Website)
But giving thanks to God for our blessings goes back far before there was an United States. For instance, read these instructions for thanksgiving in the Law (Leviticus 7: 11-15)
" 'These are the regulations for the fellowship offering a person may present to the LORD :
" 'If he offers it as an expression of thankfulness, then along with this thank offering he is to offer cakes of bread made without yeast and mixed with oil, wafers made without yeast and spread with oil, and cakes of fine flour well-kneaded and mixed with oil. Along with his fellowship offering of thanksgiving he is to present an offering with cakes of bread made with yeast. He is to bring one of each kind as an offering, a contribution to the LORD; it belongs to the priest who sprinkles the blood of the fellowship offerings. The meat of his fellowship offering of thanksgiving must be eaten on the day it is offered; he must leave none of it till morning."
Now as to our meat today, I hope there is some left for the morning and I am thankful I may eat some the next day, for my son and I love cold turkey sandwiches.
In all seriousness, here are some passages to ponder today:
Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods. Psalm 95: 1-3
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever. Psalm 136:1-3
The LORD sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground. Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; make music to our God on the harp. He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills. Psalm 147: 6-8
"Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the LORD." Jonah 2:8-9
(See, you can even give thanks in the stomach of a fish.)
Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:19-20
It is written: "I believed; therefore I have spoken." With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 4:1-15
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:5-7
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:16-17
I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men –the testimony given in its proper time. 1 Timothy 2:1-6
They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer. If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, brought up in the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. 1 Timothy 4:3-6
All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: "Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!" Revelation 7:11-12
And may you all have a great Thanksgiving Day basking in the glow of all you have to be thankful for. Amen?