The Season of Thanksgiving (Part 1)

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:15-21 ESV).

Many nations have special days for giving thanks. Arising from the same European origins of harvest festivals that led to our version in America, Canadian Thanksgiving, or to its French-speaking citizens, l’Action de grace, was first celebrated in 1578, when English explorer Martin Frobisher gave thanks for his fleet’s safe travels in present-day Nunavut. Parliament made it a national holiday in 1879. But in 1957, Parliament moved it from November 6, declaring, “A Day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed—to be observed on the 2nd Monday in October.” Feasting on turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and corn are common the weekend before. Vacations and parades are also traditional.

In the United States, Thanksgiving Day is always the fourth Thursday in November. Wherever we are in the world, there are at least two requirements for any sort of thanksgiving to happen: something we’re thankful for and somebody to thank. As obvious as that may seem, it’s amazing how many people can say, “I’m thankful for . . .” in a sort of generic way without admitting, or even realizing, that God is there to hear their thanks. And they’re certainly not giving him credit for whatever it is they’re grateful for.

We who are Christians, though, know that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights” (cf. James 1:17). So when we celebrate our holiday and name things we’re thankful for, I pray that we can ask our Father to help us know wholehearted thanks for things that are hard amongst the things that come more easily to mind: illness or health, joblessness or fulfilling work, death or life of ones we love, and more. And, we must not neglect to be grateful for the “inexpressible gift” of Jesus (cf. 2 Corinthians 9:15). Of all people in the world, we have the greatest reason to give thanks. What more could we desire than that hope and salvation? “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!” (1 Peter 1:3). Start meditating today on those things you are thankful about.