I remember finally being gathered around the dinner table on Thanksgiving day, ready to eat after smelling the food for hours on end, hungry beyond belief. Then came that dreaded statement: “Before we eat, let’s go around the table and tell what we are thankful for.”
It didn’t matter whether we were eating at my mother’s house, or my father’s house, it was the same. We hated that question. We didn’t want to sit there and come up with an answer while our food screamed at us that it was ready, beyond ready.
If your family has taken up this tradition, you know how it goes. The first child stutters trying to think of something, then says something like, “I’m grateful for poop.” The entire family erupts, some in laughter that causes them to send milk out their noses, others in condemnation for Timmy’s audacity in bringing up poop on this august day!
The parents shout: “Timmy! How dare you say that at the dinner table!”
Little Timmy shrinks into his seat, hoping to hide himself under the mashed potatoes.
Then the next child, being wiser because he is learning from Timmy’s mistake says, “I’m thankful for Gawd!“
The parents, seeing this as a vast improvement over little Timmy’s statement, voice approval.
Then the next child: “I’m thankful for Gawd, too!” it goes around the table in less than 30 seconds flat, all the children are thankful for Gawd, and the fact that it was little Timmy who blundered this Thanksgiving and not themselves.
OK, a blast from my childhood. But the truth be known, we had a hard time coming up with things to be thankful for because we were not all that thankful for the things we had. Like most unregenerate sinners, we felt we deserved all that we had and even more of what we didn’t have. We knew on some level, we were supposed to be thankful, but didn’t really want to be. Our thanksgivings were forced. They didn’t come naturally because of our hearts of stone. So, most of our thankfulness was forced thankfulness because we were supposed to be thankful! It was Thanksgiving, after all!
Quite frankly, that is how I feel about a lot of the holidays we celebrate. We do them because we are supposed to do them and to not do them it tantamount to cultural apostasy, heresy, and wickedness all rolled up into one. Just tell someone you are not going to celebrate Christmas this year, and you will see what I mean. Never mind that celebrating such holy days are not mandated in Scripture.
“Yes, but Timothy, wasn’t Thanksgiving started by Christians?” No, it wasn’t started by Christians. It was celebrated by Christians. Those who came over on the Mayflower had reason to be thankful to God for their deliverance. They thanked the Triune God for that deliverance, and then moved on. They didn’t make it a memorial because the LORD did not tell them to and because they were thankful every day and every LORD’s day for how the LORD had blessed them. (It was made a memorial by George Washington, not the LORD).
Thankfulness should be a continual action among believers. It is not something we should be doing only once a year, but doing daily, especially on the LORD’s day when we gather as His people, redeemed by the blood of Christ. We have a lot to be thankful for given that He has given us mercy and grace that the rest of the world does not receive. He has chosen to make the Christian His chosen ones, chosen before the foundations of the world to be holy, blameless and spotless before Him. We are a chosen nation, a royal priesthood and His own private possession. Given all these realities, thankfulness should be a constant for the believer.
“Are you saying that we should not celebrate Thanksgiving?” I’m not saying that at all. I’m showing that celebrating Thanksgiving is not necessary for the believer, who lives in a constant state of thankfulness, and should be thankful every LORD’s day. I’m also showing that we should not get worked up if some store decides to be open on Thanksgiving. It is not a holy day in regards to Scripture. If the pagans wish to keep their stores open, then let them. If you have to work on Thanksgiving, don’t fret about it. You are not breaking any of the commands of our holy LORD.
In view of all this, Happy Thanksgiving. More importantly, Happy LORD’s Day this coming Sunday. Go to the LORD’s house and worship Him in thankfulness. He has shown us mercy and grace that we do not deserve.