The True Meaning of Thanksgiving
Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done.
~ Psalm 105:1
Thanksgiving Day should stand out in our hearts as one of the most sacred and significant days of celebration of the year. The importance of Thanksgiving Day does not merely stem from its patriotic value as the oldest national celebration in American history. The day should not be observed simply to maintain a historical tradition that was cherished long before it was officially declared a national holiday. Thanksgiving Day is momentous because it not only calls our remembrance to the awe-inspiring work of God’s providence among our forbearers, but also allows us to connect with them in a real way by demanding a perpetual reflection on the providence of God in our own lives. Whether joyfully or with more than a little misgiving, on Thanksgiving Day the nation acknowledges that we are the heirs of our Pilgrim Fathers. Thanksgiving provides a national identification that should connect with every American on a deep and intimate level. It is a day that points to the firm conviction that every good and perfect gift comes from above, and that we are the residual beneficiaries of God’s favor bestowed upon, and celebrated by our ancestors, during that first Thanksgiving feast. As we gather around our family tables in celebration of God’s providence and provision we are the fulfillment of the hope of those godly men and women; we are the enduring testimony to the fruition of their multi-generational vision of faithfulness.
At the same time, it is perhaps for this very reason that the hallowed importance of Thanksgiving Day is diminished in our modern culture. The necessary reflection on God’s providence invoked on this day is something that the unregenerate heart simply cannot grasp, much less celebrate. The essential theme of man’s utter dependence on God is something to which men shaped by the egotistical philosophy of the enlightenment cannot relate. The exclusive adoration and deep fidelity to Jesus Christ practiced among the Pilgrim Fathers is something that this secular generation finds intolerable. For this reason, each year the observance of Thanksgiving Day has gradually diminished into a day celebrated by an excess of parades, food, and football. Thanksgiving Day has been even further eroded by the radical left who, out of their hatred for God, has revised history to distort and pervert America’s Christian heritage. While the Christmas holiday has inherited its fictitious flying reindeer and Easter has inherited a fictitious egg laying rabbit, it seems that Thanksgiving has inherited a fictitious historical narrative, equal to those other absurdities, and accompanied by a barrage of unwarranted ridicule and speculative doubt.
As we gather around the family table for Thanksgiving Day we should consider the fact that we are the fruition of God’s blessing poured out on our Pilgrim Fathers. The liberty that we enjoy is a product of the first chartered documents of the Pilgrims who, beginning with the Mayflower Compact, examined the Scriptures and drafted these charters on principles of self-government and freedom under God. As we lift up our hearts in song and thanksgiving to God we affirm the success of their multi-generational vision; gathering in confirmation that their toil and hardship was not in vain. On Thanksgiving Day we gather as living testimonies of what God can do through a small number of faithful families who forsake all else to advance the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.
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