Every time November comes around, my thoughts, like many people, turn to Thanksgiving. I'm not alone in this. However, I've learned that people have different ideas about what Thanksgiving means. For most people, thanks-giving is a holiday set aside for turkey and football. As long as there is plenty of food on the table and their team wins, they will give thanks. If not, November 26 is simply the last day before Christmas shopping begins. Scripture transforms Thanksgiving away from the dinner table and the TV. “Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done” (1 Chronicles 16:8).
Transforming Thanksgiving begins in giving honor to God. We “give thanks to the LORD”, acknowledging Him as the true source of all we have and are. When I was living in Birmingham, Alabama I shared Thanksgiving dinner with a group of friends. While we were all single adults without families, I was the only Christian. Before eating, the hostess acknowledged a need to “say thanks” and asked if I would say a prayer. I gladly agreed. I asked her who she wanted me to thank. After some nervous laughter, I assured them all that I knew who to thank. We bowed our heads and gave thanks to the LORD, the God who not only created the world and everything in it but also created us in His image and redeemed us through the blood of Jesus. This year, whether you are surrounded by family or eating alone, give thanks to the LORD. He has remained by your side, given you unconditional love and secured ever-lasting life for you.
Transforming Thanksgiving continues in giving hope to ourselves. We “call upon His Name” in every situation. We not only honor God for His past blessings, we invite Him to be involved in every aspect of our present lives. Calling on the name of the Lord is an act of love and devotion, faith and trust that He not only hears our prayers and petitions but also will answer them in our best interests.
Transforming Thanksgiving finds fulfillment in giving help to others. We “make known among the nations what He has done” in simple acts of kindness. Confident in God's present and future blessings, truly thankful people share their possessions. As we continue to live with the challenges of the pandemic, the need for reaching out and caring for family and friends is greater than ever. Look for creative ways to share your love for God by showing love to others.
I hope you will plan to join your church family on Thanksgiving Eve as we give honor to God, hope to ourselves and help to others. Wherever you are on Thanksgiving, I pray it is truly transforming for you.
In His service and yours,
Pastor Mark R. Rhoads