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Biblical Thanksgiving

November 21, 2012

That title makes even me wince.  What was your first expectation as you read it?  Maybe you thought I was going to do a thoughtful, if somewhat pretentious, analysis of our Thanksgiving traditions to see if they pass the test of being “biblical.”  This could result in a list of helpful suggestions on how to make our celebrations “more biblical.”  On the other hand it might result in a scathing denunciation of our “pagan” celebration.

Another possibility is that it could be an impassioned plea to avoid the materialism that has come to be associated with the holiday, most particularly with “black Friday” sales which seem to be seeping into Thursday.  While it is a bit odd that we celebrate a day to give thanks for all God has provided and, the very next day, rush out to buy more stuff, I don’t see the point in being negative about this day for a materialism that Thanksgiving did not cause and cannot cure.

Maybe it could be historical.  I might try and penetrate the fog around the history of Thanksgiving in our country.  We tend to portray the “first Thanksgiving” as something akin to a church potluck dinner where a group of happy Pilgrims and peaceful Indians each brought something to the dinner and sat around in harmony.  All we need to do is ignore the fact that, within a generation, 90% off those Indians were either dead or had fled New England.  Subsequent history of this celebration was equally murky.  While the day became “official” only in Lincoln’s time it remained a largely regional until the mid-20th century.  I frankly think this became truly national in scope largely due to it being a good day to watch football more than a desire for national thanks.

Other variations present themselves.  I could call for a day of national repentance and turning back to God; a day to give up feasting and fast; a day to honor servicemen, or first responders, or self-sacrificing providers of health services.  You can find suggestions for all of these online.  We could also focus on the homeless, the elderly, the plight of minorities, the terminally ill or any other group that wrenches at our hearts.  All these too have been suggested.

Maybe I should focus on how to pray and what to pray for?  I was pretty sure we weren’t supposed to pray for material things until I read online the heart wrenching story of a young widow who lost the wedding ring her late husband had given her and I really was moved to pray she could get it back.  Advice to pray for peace, for health, for God to bless our country, our families, our churches, seems pretty good, if a bit generic.

The truth is I don’t have any clear idea that there is a one-size-fits-all biblical Thanksgiving and, even if there is, I am sure I don’t know what it looks like.  It seem like a pretty good idea to have a special day set aside to give thank however.  And I can’t imagine our gracious God has some sort of heavenly scorecard by which He grades our Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving.


From → Christianity

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