Thanksgiving: Let the Church Lead the Way
Thanksgiving Day marks a breather for workers and students. It offers a cherished occasion for family gatherings. And it reminds us of the Christian foundation of America. While secularists are renaming and marginalizing any spiritual significance of Christian holidays, the Church is left to say otherwise. The giving of thanks ought to characterize us as Christ followers. Hence, during a season of thanksgiving, the Church is called to the forefront. This is our chance to practice and herald the concept of attributing our blessings to God’s providence. For several reasons, the Church should lead the way at Thanksgiving.
In giving thanks, the Church points our nation to a dependence on God
When it comes to relying on God, we are a fickle nation. We’ve seen how a national crisis like 911 can turn our thoughts to God. But most of the time, business goes on as usual. In 1863, in the midst of a Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln, issued a proclamation setting the last Thursday of November as Thanksgiving Day across the United States. In pointing out the positives, he wrote,
“No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.”
In times of peace and harmony, the Church may stand alone, but it must nevertheless stand in reminding a nation of its indebtedness to and dependence on God.
In giving thanks, the Church proclaims the gospel of Christ
The Church is entrusted with communicating the message of salvation to the lost. A sound gospel presentation begins with exposing sin and calling unbelievers to repentance. The apostle Paul laid such a foundation by indicting man for the dismissal of his own Creator. Notice his accusation in Romans 1:21a: “For even though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks . . .”
Man’s ingratitude toward God serves as exhibit A in the case against his depravity and lostness. As we model thankfulness, we raise the issue of redemption and point to the Savior. Thanksgiving is an integral part of the gospel message, and the Church should recognize and preach it.
In giving thanks, the Church embraces its mission to the world
The giving of thanks is a hallmark of our earthly mission. The world is replete with those who seek favor from false gods and credit them for their windfalls. But those who serve the true and living God herald His goodness. The Great Commission of Christ calls for thanksgiving to God to be expressed in every culture and language as a comprehensive global witness. The Psalmist understood that when he wrote, “Therefore I will give thanks to you among the nations, O Lord, and I will sing praises to Your name” (Ps 18:49). We are obedient to Christ’s mission when we name our God as the source of all blessings.
During this Thanksgiving season, let the Church lead the way in abundant gratitude to our God. May there be no confusion about how we feel and to Whom we are indebted. For we know the truth, that “He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist” (Acts 17:27b-28a).