Thanksgiving is tomorrow (or Thursday depending on how soon you read this)! I know that many of you are excited about the festivities that will most certainly take place in many of your homes. The turkey, stuffing, pies, family, and football will probably dominate the schedule. Until the crazy shopping deals begin…
I was talking about favorite Thanksgiving dishes and traditions with the students of my youth ministry this past Sunday when an interesting question was asked, “What is this Thanksgiving you all are so excited about?” The question came from a teenage boy who has been visiting our group this semester. He is an exchange student from Vietnam, and had no idea what we were all so excited about. We took this opportunity to share the history of Thanksgiving and its various traditions with him. So often, we go through life with our routines and holidays typically break us from those routines. But these breaks are actually just as ‘routine’ as our normal days. This boy’s question challenged us to remember what we would be celebrating tomorrow.
On the original Thanksgiving, the pilgrims were not thankful for football or shopping discounts. They were thankful for food when their crops failed. They were thankful for help from neighbors they thought would kill them. They were thankful for family members and friends who had helped them survive. They were thankful for the new place they were living in freedom.
In the midst of all the crazy stories dominating the news today and the glitz and glamour of a huge television for a couple of hundred dollars, it is easy to forget about what is really important. In Youth Group this past Sunday, I was reminded of how Thanksgiving is a change of perspective. It is a change of pace. It commemorates the fear of neighbors turning into friendship, and I think we can use some of that right now, but I digress. Thanksgiving is also a time that we thank God for the blessings he has given us: life, love, and grace.
In Philippians chapter 4 verse 6, Paul pens, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Paul reminds this congregation that bad stuff will happen and tough times will come and there will be things to worry about, but we can trust that we can present everything to God in thanksgiving. Why thanksgiving? Because in the midst of trials and the distractions of life, a state of thanksgiving is a change of perspective. It signals our trust in God, who He is, and what He is about, for we should not tell God about our problems but our problems about our God! Anyway, I was just thinking…Happy Thanksgiving.