Making Thanksgiving Real (Part 2)

Embarkation of the Pilgrims - Robert Walter Weir (1857)

Read Part 1.

In our quest to make Thanksgiving real, we left off by thinking about ways to ground our Thanksgiving in Scripture, following the example of the very Pilgrims who left this treasure as a heritage to our entire nation. The next challenge I would offer is to ground our Thanksgiving in history—primarily the history of these same Pilgrims.

Our American Thanksgiving dates back to the fall of 1621. Indeed, it represents a Christian ideal—a very Biblical ideal. Yet, it is also a remembrance of God’s providential working at the dawn of our country.

Recently, after I spoke to a church group about the Pilgrims, the pastor stood up and shared from his heart how much he believes this message to be desperately needed today, especially by our young people—and yet how little is known of it. He said that telling the Pilgrims’ story to many of our youth would be like speaking to them in a foreign language.

The account of the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving is so incredible that if one were hearing it for the first time, he might believe it to be a fiction novel—a work of fantasy.

Do you know the history of the Pilgrims? Have you taught it to your family? This would be a wonderful time to read a book or article, or watch a video, on the Pilgrims. You might even consider making a little knowledge of the Pilgrims mandatory for anyone who wants to partake of the turkey at your bountiful Thanksgiving table!

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Making Thanksgiving Real (Part 1)

In these strange new “perilous times” (2 Tim. 3:1), it takes an awful lot to shock us. An unexpected trend has emerged, however, that is so unthinkably disturbing that we hate to even fathom it. It involves pushing a random stranger down onto subway tracks, or even in front of an oncoming train.

If more evidence were needed for the depraved nature of man, I am not sure where it could come from. But this is not mere depravity—it is a form of debauchery and degradation that only occurs in the final stages of cultural descent.

No matter what anyone says about such hideous crimes, one thing is beyond dispute: Anyone who could perpetrate such lawlessness is not thankful to their Creator God.

The Apostle Paul, in fact, made it clear in Rom. 1:21 that it is the very sin of thanklessness that plunges lost humanity—as if pushing down on a broken step—into ghastly exaggerations of iniquity, and finally into the lake of fire itself.

Hopefully no one reading these words is flirting with performing random acts of murder. Yet, we must ask ourselves if we are, in fact, also allowing that root sin of thanklessness, of ingratitude, to undertake its infernal efforts in our hearts.

What does Thanksgiving mean to us? Feasting, football and finding bargains? How can it become so much more to us as we approach another Thanksgiving Day? To put it bluntly, how can we make Thanksgiving real? I believe that doing so will, first of all, require us to ground our Thanksgiving season in Scripture.

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Why I’m Thankful for Our Veterans

A confession: Veterans Day is not a holiday that usually ranks high in my awareness. There’s no tradition of family gathering, no feasting, and almost no special decorations or merchandising. Most people don’t even get the day off.

So, these reflections are partly a kind of penance. I want to compensate a bit for my customary Veterans Day obliviousness—and maybe help a few others do the same.

When I give it some thought, reasons to be thankful for veterans come quickly to mind. These are just a few.

1. I’m basically a coward.

I think it was Aristotle who taught that courage is one of the greatest virtues and that the courage of soldiers who go to battle is the highest form of that virtue. It involves the greatest risk for the least personal benefit.

The Bible associates courage with righteousness.

  • “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion” (Prov 28:1).
  • David to Saul: “Let no man’s heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine” (1 Sam 17:32).
  • God to Joshua: “Be strong and very courageous, being careful to do all the law that Moses my servant commanded you” (Josh 1:7).

The connection to faith isn’t hard to see. Both David and Joshua faced war with the conviction that this was what God expected of them and that He would be present with them to achieve His purposes. (David, e.g., 1 Sam 30:6; Joshua, e.g., Josh 10:25).

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400 Years of Gratitude

The Mayflower Compact 1620 - Jean Leon Gerome Ferris

While we are not certain of the exact date, we do know that this year marks the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving celebration in Plymouth.1

In the fall of 1621, “the 53 surviving Pilgrims and Chief Massasoit with his 90 Indian braves”2 (of the Wampanoag Tribe) came together to mark the bounty of their harvest and to give praise to God for graciously preserving them and providing for them.

Pilgrim Edward Winslow—signer of the Mayflower Compact, three-time governor of Plymouth, the author of five books, and a most interesting man in his own right—shared the most detailed historical account of that blessed assembly in a work commonly referred to as Mourt’s Relation. In it, he revealed the following details:

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Always for All Things

By Rev. C. H. Spurgeon

Sermon No. 1094, delivered on Lord’s-Day morning, February 2, 1873, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

“Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:20.

The position of our text in the Epistle is worthy of observation. It follows the precept with regard to sacred song in which Believers are bid to speak to themselves and one another in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in their hearts to the Lord. If they cannot be always singing they are always to maintain the spirit of song. If they must, of necessity, desist at intervals from outward expressions of praise, they ought never to refrain from inwardly giving thanks. The Apostle, having touched upon the act of singing in public worship, here points out the essential part of it which lies not in classic music and thrilling harmonies, but in the melody of the heart. Thanksgiving is the soul of all acceptable singing.

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