Summary: This is a sermon on Thanksgiving, originally preached on Thanksgiving Sunday 2003.
HONOR HIM WITH THANKSGIVING
PSALM 50:7-15, 23; PSALM 36:5-10
PSALM 50:23, “HE WHO OFFERS A SACRIFICE OF THANKSGIVING HONORS ME;
AND TO HIM WHO ORDERS HIS WAY ARIGHT
I SHALL SHOW THE SALVATION OF GOD.”
--by R. David Reynolds
We all know the story of the first American Thanksgiving, or do we? We’ve heard the story of the Pilgrim’s 1621 Thanksgiving since kindergarten or first grade. The date, however, of that feast remains unknown, although we can place it sometime between September 21 and November 9 with an early October date being most reasonable. This was not the first Thanksgiving Service in the Western Hemisphere by people of European heritage. In May of 1541 the Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado observed a thanksgiving at the Palo Duro Canyon with 1,500 men in the Texas Panhandle.
On June 30, 1564, French Huguenots celebrated thanksgiving in a settlement near what is now the site of Jacksonville, Florida. , and in the spring of 1610 the residents of Jamestown, Virginia observed a thanksgiving prayer service upon the safe arrival of food supplies from England. Their winter of 1609-1610 was extremely harsh, reducing the size of their settlement from 490 to only 60. The famine was so harsh that to survive people were forced to eat their own horses [http://www.memory.loc.gov/ammem/ndlpedu/features/thanksgiving/
The first English Thanksgiving occurred in 1578. The English explorer Martin Frobisher held a formal thanksgiving, in present day Newfoundland. Along with his powerful preacher Robert Wolfall, he worshiped with at least 100 men to thank God for delivering them from death in a stormy Atlantic voyage. Afterwards they enjoyed their Thanksgiving Dinner of salt beef, biscuits, and peas [http://www.senioryears.com/historial.html].
Harvest festivals of thanksgiving have been observed by people throughout history. In the United Kingdom harvest festivals are observed mostly in churches. These come after the wheat has been harvested and the apples picked. The sanctuaries are decorated with flowers, greenery, fruit, and vegetable displays with a loaf of bread placed in the middle. In some places it is the custom to bring a plough to the church to bless for the next year’s harvest [http://www.harvestfestivals.net/
But the basis of all these thanksgiving, harvest celebrations is the Word of God. The Jewish Harvest festival is Sukkot, also know as the Feast of Tabernacles. It is celebrated for one week, and this year took place from October 10th through the 16th. It is the celebration of the wondering through the Wilderness. Huts in which people eat their meals are constructed in the synagogues and in family gardens. It is a time when Jewish hearts go out to all humankind and look forward to the time God brings “peace on earth, good will toward humanity.” [http://www.kehilasmy.org/holidays/rosh/sukot.cfm].”
God’s people are called upon 150 times in the Old and New Testaments to give Him Thanksgiving. Psalm 50:23 is our basic test for today: