This Thanksgiving it would be beneficial to recall why we celebrate. What do we Americans celebrate thanksgiving for? For most it seems to be an excuse to eat more than normal. For some it’s all about great food and football. And some having more noble reasons such as a chance to see family they haven’t seen all year. While each person has their own reason for why they enjoy Thanksgiving, I wish to write a bit about its history to recall for us the “true meaning” of thanksgiving if you will.
Thanksgiving has never held that much significance, at least not in my life time. What I mean is it seems to be that holiday that comes and goes without any particular attachment like a “reason for the season” and decorations like Christmas or Halloween, unless you grew up in a home that put up pictures of Turkeys and Pilgrims in the window. It comes and goes and for the most part it’s just a mile stone before the “real” and more festive Christmas season. So why do we celebrate thanksgiving?
Everyone knows the story of the Pilgrims coming to the “New World” arriving in 1620 upon the ship Mayflower. We have heard the stories of the Pilgrims and the Indians coming together over a feast that the Indians helped the Pilgrims plant and grow. Most thanksgiving pictures are of this scene. A table filled with good food surrounded with the two groups enjoying all they have before them. Quite a modern picture as well. But why the journey; Why did the Pilgrims risk so much in traveling across the Atlantic to this land of ours?
Also known as English dissenters, these Pilgrims fled to America to escape religious persecutions in England. The very same religious freedoms we have today are a result of the courage and faith of this small number of men, women, and children who faced many hardships to find and provide a new and free way of life. God is to be praised for result of this dangerous, yet successful journey! It was by grace they landed upon these shores and this we look back upon and give thanks to God for the freedom we share.
Why celebrate thanksgiving? It is plain. We celebrate thanksgiving because it represents every good and just thing we enjoy every day. Every day we enjoy the fruits of the labors from those before us. From the crew of 102 on the May Flower to those who have fought and died to retain our freedom, it is these and many more who laid a foundation for us to call home.
Most of all we are to give thanks to God through Jesus Christ! He has sovereignty and providentially led these faithful few in search for a land they could serve the Lord Jesus Christ and raise their children by His word without the threat of persecution. Too many years have gone by for us to remember the frightful dealings the enemies of the cross inflicted upon our forefathers. Too many generations have gone by. We have seemed to lose touch with the part of the church that still suffers for Christ. When you gather around the table this year retell the old story of grace and providence God bestowed upon those few who ventured out across the Atlantic for the sake of the gospel and their families. But most of all retell the even older story of the one who ventured from Heaven to this earth to secure an eternal home for all who look to Jesus Christ by faith. This thanksgiving let us remember. Let us remember how we got here, who went before us, and most of all, who is responsible for all we have to be thankful for. Too God alone be all the thanks!