Let Us Give Thanks!

…and Jesus taught: 25 "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 28 "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. – the Gospel of the Lord.

Our great American Thanksgiving Day, and season, was founded on the principle of giving thanks to God with a grateful heart…

Thanksgiving’s origins go back to colonial times in the northeast. The first cold Massachusetts winter had killed off half the new colony of settlers, giving them many reasons to worry because they watched their children, parents, and friends perish in the harsh environment of a new world.  A world that was perhaps more frightening than the one they were willing to leave behind. But these were people who clung to a deep and abiding faith that God would provide for them, as he provided for the birds of the air, and the lilies of the field. So a new hope for survival grew in the summer of 1621. A bountiful corn harvest had brought rejoicing. A new kind of bread had been developed, a bread not likely used anyplace else in the world, cornbread. There was also corn cake, geese, duck, wild turkey, venison, and fish. Most of their new way of planting, utilizing fish scraps for fertilizer, had been learned from the friendly natives, mistakenly called Indians. God provided in many ways with a bountiful harvest, and help from the friendly locals. So the governor of the Plymouth Colony decreed a three-day feast, a great Thanksgiving, for the purpose of prayer and celebration on July 30, 1623.

That brings us to today, almost 400 years after the first American Thanksgiving. We too have seen children perish and have lost loved ones to tragedies in the past year. There are others we love in harm’s way overseas. We have lived through one of the worst financial crisis the world has ever seen, have experienced much lose as a church community, and continue with uncertain times ahead of us…and yet we gather this week to give thanks. Why do we do it? Because that’s just what we do in late November, or are we really gathering with those we love to truly give thanks, as our founding mothers and fathers did centuries ago, to the one true source of all that is. 

I hope and trust that it is the latter. As we’re told in our reading from the Gospel of Matthew, God provides for His creation, as part of creation, He has given us everything we have.  

Consider what you are thankful for today…

Our forbearers were wise in setting time aside to give thanks and leaving us the legacy of this holiday which was created as a thanksgiving celebration for the providence of our loving heavenly Father. As we carry the tradition forward, let us remember its roots which were born in the hardships of settling in a new land by a grateful and hopeful people. Let us embrace both their gratitude for all that we have, all that we’ve been blessed with and in remembering all of these blessings come from God. Let us hold on to the hope, as they did of better times ahead because of God’s promise to us "that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28) and let this hopeful and grateful spirit inspire us to give generously to those whose need is greater than ours for “for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor. 9:7.)

Let us pray:

“Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done.  Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.  Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.   Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced.” (1 Chronicles 16:8-12)


In Christ
Joe Acanfora+