Thanksgiving is such a special holiday. We gather with family and friends for food, fellowship, and even some football (or a lot of football)! In every gathering, there can be believers (longtime or new, strong or weak) and non-believers. This causes challenges for the host and hostess about how to center a Thanksgiving celebration on the One who deserves all our thanks and praise. It can be done, but it requires a readiness and a boldness to talk about Jesus.
The challenge usually arises when everyone sits down to dinner (hopefully it’s not in front of the TV watching a football game). It’s expected that “a word of thanks” be given for the food. But as Christians, we should also be ready to seize the opportunity to specifically thank Jesus and open a spiritual conversation. It’s not always easy, but it is always worthwhile.
Starting Conversation of Thanksgiving to God
Often before or after a prayer is offered, at some Thanksgiving gatherings, those at the table will tell of that for which they are thankful. This practice can certainly start discussions about where our gifts come from and to whom we give thanks. Another way is to talk about the origins of this holiday.
The Origin of Thanksgiving
Reflecting on the history of this holiday can focus people’s minds on the gifts they have been given, and open conversation about thankfulness. Everyone knows that Thanksgiving began with the Pilgrims celebrating their first harvest. They gave thanks to God for the provisions they had received and the abundance of the harvest that would help them face the coming harsh winter.
Most Americans are not concerned about sufficient provisions for the winter months. For many Americans, Thanksgiving Day has become a day filled with fun festivities and too much food. Such abundance can often overshadow the importance of giving thanks. Remembering the Pilgrims can help focus the day back into an attitude of gratitude.
In the Beginning…
We can make Thanksgiving more Christ-centered by tracing the origins of thanksgiving back to a time far before the Pilgrim’s harvest. In the beginning was a garden of abundance far beyond anything we can imagine. The abundance of food that God gave to Adam and Eve for their physical sustenance exceeded any Thanksgiving feast we’ve ever had. The abundance of love that they enjoyed in unity with God fueled their lives of perfect harmony with each other and their Creator.
While we don’t read of Adam and Eve expressing gratitude to their Creator, we do know that God had given them everything they needed to be completely satisfied and content. But then things changed. It was discontentment, and a desire for something that was neither necessary nor beneficial for them, that caused them to turn their hearts away from God and led them to their sin of disobedience.
Adam and Eve did not sin because of lack of knowledge. They sinned because they wanted something that God had not given them. They were not satisfied with all that God had provided.
Paul speaks of this in the book of Romans, reminding us that since the beginning of the world God has revealed His goodness to all mankind, and yet many are still not satisfied and thankful:
Romans 1:20-21 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Like Adam and Eve, when our focus is on what we want, our thoughts move away from God and toward our own desires. Our hearts turn from gratitude to greed.
The ingratitude of Adam and Eve led to sin that plunged the human race into a condition of selfish desires, self-sufficiency, and self-satisfaction. When man lives by, “I know what I want, I will get what I want, and, it will satisfy me,” there is little room in the heart for love of God, love for others, and sacrificial service.
But God, in His mercy, sent Jesus to dwell among us, to teach us, and to rescue us from the bondage of sin and self. In the most self-sacrificing act of love, Jesus gave His life in payment for our sins. Without our even asking, He sacrificed Himself that we might receive a new heart to replace our foolish, darkened hearts.
Temporal and Eternal Gifts
Take a minute now give thanks for the temporal gifts of Thanksgiving Day and the eternal gifts that are ours each and every day. In the gift of God’s amazing grace is birthed a gratitude that will fuel a life of continual thankfulness
On Thanksgiving Day, remember that you already have everything you need and it truly is more than enough. Seize the opportunity to share with non-believers, not only your feast of food but also the food that will nourish their souls. Tell them about who God is and what He has done for them. When you pass the bread, tell them about the Bread from Heaven that will satisfy them forever.
Check out “Who Said That? Common Everyday Sayings (from the Bible)” — A great way to start a conversation of spiritual importance. Available immediately in eBook on Amazon.
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