One thing that Americans continue to celebrate well is Thanksgiving Holiday on the last Thursday of November (which was yesterday).
Perhaps like many of our own religious holidays, the holiness of the day has somewhat slipped over the centuries but honouring the origins of it is still powerful and poignant.
From the early pilgrims making it a God honouring day of prayer of thankfulness, to George Washington calling for a national day of prayer, and finally to Abraham Lincoln making Thanksgiving an official holiday, there has been a root throughout of the spirit of thankfulness, prayer, and praise to God. Counting our blessings and acknowledging His goodness and provision.
In the UK, many of us may be familiar with a lesser widely celebrated ’Harvest Thanksgiving’. A time on this side of the Atlantic where we also thank God for his provision of food and the blessing of Him meeting our needs. Although many churches and communities do celebrate harvest thanksgiving, it’s sad that such Christian festivals are actually on the decline. Perhaps as God’s people we need to be much more vocal about honouring God in our homes and communities. Acknowledging our Creator, Provider, and Redeemer.
Throughout the scriptures we see people having feast days, fast days, and days of prayer in thanksgiving to God for His goodness. Various festivals of celebration, where God’s people brought their first fruits and tithes as worship offerings. Thankfulness really is a beautiful trait and an even more wonderful attitude to have in life and towards God and His goodness. In the psalms David reminds us to make thankfulness an offering - “I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the Lord.”( Psalm 116:17)
I have always found the story of Jesus healing the 10 lepers astounding (Luke 17:11-19). For sure the miracle of healing itself is amazing, but what is just as amazing is that only one out of 10 came back to thank Jesus for healing them!! After living wretched lives of disease, pain, stigma and rejection, they walked on into the rest of their lives without being as thankful as we’d expect from their encounter. This clearly affected Jesus who asked the one who returned ‘Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?’ (v17) We can all be guilty of forgetting to say thank you – especially to God. Maybe we’ve become too self-sufficient, entitled, or perhaps not truly nurturing hearts of gratitude. May each of us take personal responsibility before God to express our thankfulness as individuals and on behalf of our families, communities, and nation.
A phrase I picked up decades ago that I often used with my own children when they were growing up was, “gratitude instead of attitude”. Maybe this is a timely reminder for us all. So this weekend, before the Christmas preparations start in earnest, let’s take a moment of quiet reflection followed by giving God our heartfelt praise. For He is worthy.