Thanksgiving, the simple, mostly non-commercialized holiday, is often overlooked in department stores. I guess this is to be expected since other than grocery stores chains; there isn't a lot of fanfare behind the sale of turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie (personally, I’m partial to sweet potato pie) and cranberry sauce!
Sure, there have been a few attempts to make Thanksgiving more exciting. You can buy a few Thanksgiving decorations, and there is the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special to commemorate the holiday. But the truth is that sometimes it seems like the only purpose of Thanksgiving is to eat turkey, watch football, and, to kick off the Christmas shopping season!
Thanksgiving, at least as I remember from playing Miles Standish in the fourth grade, is so much more than this. Thanksgiving is all about thanking God for the gifts of life, love, joy, and much more. Yes, it is true that we get to see family and friends and we get to eat a great meal. But our central purpose should be to give thanks for God's favor, power, love, and care given to us.
When the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock on December 11, 1620, they found a cold, rocky, barren, desolate wilderness. During the first winter, half the Pilgrims died of sickness or exposure. The Pilgrims needed help to survive, and they got it from an English-speaking Indian named Squanto.
With Squanto's help, the Pilgrims beat the odds. They built homes in the wilderness, they raised enough crops to keep them alive during the long coming winter, and they were at peace with their Indian neighbors. Their Governor, William Bradford, proclaimed a day of thanksgiving that was to the colonists and the neighboring Native American Indians.
Now I'm the first to admit that when I sat down with my family on Thanksgiving for the culinary delights that appear at the table, I DID NOT hold a ritualistic vigil to a Plymouth Rock! Instead, it was reserved time for God and family. It was an opportunity to reunite with loved ones and friends. It was a time off from work to enjoy a four-day weekend, and an excellent excuse to take in lots of calories without feeling too guilty!
After traveling to the all of the churches in the Atlanta Decatur Oxford District for charge conferences, I’ve thankful for the many stories of our churches. I’m also thankful that I’m able to work with so many faithful pastors who lead those churches.
So as you prepare to finish your Thanksgiving leftovers and prepare for Advent and Christmas, I invite you to give thanks for the many blessings we have received. Here's an excerpt from church consultant Will Mancini, CEO of Auxano, who offers a way to give thanks during this season.
On the Journey,