Summary: Thanksgiving and joy are linked together. When we focus on thanksgiving and praise we enjoy the attitude and spirit of joy in our life.
How to Celebrate Thanksgiving
When I check out the comics in the newspaper I look at two comic strips: Peanuts and Garfield. My top comic strip is Peanuts, written by the late Charles Schulz. Schultz describes the lives and relationships of Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Snoopy, and all the other characters. Many of the Charlies Brown comics have a moral truth in the story line.
One comic strip shows Linus sharing with his older sister Lucy a comic strip he had written. He hands her the piece of paper and asks, "Lucy, would you read this and tell me if you think it’s funny?"
Lucy reads it, and a bit of a grin comes across her face. She looks at Linus and says, "Well, who wrote this?"
Linus puffs out his chest and says with a big smile, "Lucy, I wrote that." Lucy then wads the paper up, tosses it to the side, and says, "Well, then, I don’t think it’s very funny." Linus picks up his crumpled comic strip, throws his security blanket over his shoulder, and says, "Big sisters are the crabgrass in the lawn of life.
Many of us have a few clumps of crabgrass in the lawn of our lives. Some family members or friend have said or done hurtful things to you. You’ve felt the discouragement of failure, the sting of criticism, and the despair of hopelessness. Sometimes your crabgrass even comes with "stickers"—thorns that pierce to your very heart day after day.
Too often our tendency is to get so upset over the crabgrass that we forget to give thanks for the lawn. We get so focused on our problems and our pains that we lose our sense of gratitude for the many blessings we enjoy. How do we keep that joy alive? How do we live thankfully? How do we pray with an attitude of gratitude? How can we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving?
We best prepare for Thanksgiving by reflecting on the past blessings and provisions of the Lord.
The Old Testament records 7 festivals and feasts instituted by God to remind Israel of God’s past blessings and providential care.
The Feast of Passover was celebrated to remember how God had spared the life of all first born of the Children of Israel in the final plague on Egypt so Pharaoh would release the Children of Israel from bondage.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread followed the Passover Festival and remembered that in the exodus the Children of Israel prepared bread without yeast because of their hasty preparation to leave Egypt.
The Feast of First Fruits took place at the beginning of harvest and signified Israel gratitude to and dependence upon God.
The Feat of Weeks occurred seven weeks after Pentecost and was a sacred day of assembly and no work on that day was allowed. The feast focused on giving God thanks for the wheat harvest.
The Feast of Trumpets marked the end of the agricultural year. The blasting of trumpets announced the commencement of this special celebration.
The Day of Atonement festival focused on the atonement for the sins of the people. The Day of Atonement took place at the end of the agricultural year.
The Feast of Tabernacles, also called the Feast of Booths took place five days after the Day of Atonement. The people camped out in small huts during this time in order to recall their temporary living quarters prior to entering the land of Canaan. This joyous week was a time of final celebration and thanksgiving for the year’s harvest. The Feast of Tabernacles lasted 8 days. Thanks to God was given for the harvest that had been gathered. A palm frond was bound together with a thick myrtle branch on one side and a willow branch on the other. The branches were carried and waved in the air along with fruit during the religious celebration. Tradition says that Psalm 118 was recited from memory as part of the ritual of celebration. Psalm 118:1 “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures for ever.”
Small booths were made from leafy branches and people lived in the booths during 7 days of the 8 day celebration. This reminded the Jews how God had provided for them during their 40 years of wilderness wandering. For 40 long years God provided food and water and long wearing clothes and sandals for their journey through the desert.
The Feast of Tabernacles was a time of thanksgiving and rejoicing before the Lord.
We don’t build booths to live in during days surrounding the day we designate as a Day of Thanksgiving, but we can reflect on past blessings and how God has provided for us individually as a family.
Thanksgiving and joy are linked together. When we focus on thanksgiving and praise we enjoy the attitude and spirit of joy in our life.