Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Reason for Thanksgiving

...Cause that's just how I roll!

 You may have thought, based on the sermon title, that I would come out this Sunday in a pilgrim costume and tell the story of the origins of Thanksgiving in America.  You know, the awful winter the pilgrims had when they landed here, and how the native Americans helped them learn to plant, and the feast they celebrated together.  As appealing as that idea might be from the standpoint of embarrassing my kids, I think there are better ways to spend a half-hour on a Sunday morning.  Instead, I want to ask why God wants us to be thankful in the first place.  Because, ironically, Thanksgiving may be the most distinctively Christian holiday we celebrate.  After all, nowhere in Scripture are we told to celebrate the birth of Jesus.  That tradition of observing Advent and Christmas didn’t even begin until centuries after Christ.  As for Easter, Christians immediately began worshipping on Sunday, because that was the day Christ rose from the dead.  They called it “The Lord’s Day.”  But nowhere in Scripture did Jesus say, “You’d better celebrate my resurrection every Spring.  Let that be the magical moment every year when women can start wearing white.  Make sure you hide eggs.  And of course, you’d better include a bunny.”  So there’s no biblical mandate for Christmas or Easter, but God commands us, over and over again, to give Him thanks. 

Does that seem odd to anyone else?  My parents taught me to say “thank you,” when I was a little boy.  When I was a senior in high school, our English teacher Mrs. Bland even taught us the proper way to write a thank you note, since we would soon be racking up all these senior gifts.  But never did my parents or anyone else say, “You’d better thank me, buster, or I’m going to take it all away!”  That would have seemed selfish and weird.  So why does God insist we say thank you to Him?  This Sunday, I want to look at some of what God says in Scripture regarding gratitude, then talk about why He wants thankfulness from us.  Finally, I have a challenge for you this coming week.

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