Summary: Without Thanksgiving we can’t experience Christmas
The preacher came over to visit unexpectedly. (Aren’t you glad your preacher doesn’t do that?) Wanting to make a good impression, the lady of the house instructed her little daughter, “Please run and get that good book we all love so much and bring it here.” The daughter tottered off and then returned in a minute with triumph on her face and the J.C. Penney catalogue in her hands!
The biggest Thanksgiving killer, is the day after when Christmas shopping begins in earnest and we stop thinking about what we have and start thinking about what we want. Many of us like to flip through the pages of the Christmas catalogue looking at all the neat stuff we want when we ought to be doing spending more time looking at the neat stuff we already have.
Our problem is that we have allowed Christmas to kill Thanksgiving. Have you noticed? In the stores we went right from Halloween to Christmas. In fact, in many stores Halloween and Christmas were up together in September. How many Thanksgiving Specials have you seen on TV? I believe tonight is the first and only thanksgiving special. Have you tried to buy any thanksgiving decorations? They don’t exist! I take that back I was able to find those little pilgrim salt and pepper shakers at Publix you know the ones from their commercial. However, I am not so sure that is about Thanksgiving as much as it is about selling their store.
The hustle and bustle of the secularization of Christmas has encroached upon the sanctity of Thanksgiving. Christmas is not a time of peace and joy but of chaos and frantic futility. Now I know what you must be thinking – were is she going with this – Christmas is a celebration of Christ’s birth – as a preacher surely she wants us to celebrate Christmas. I am not suggesting that we don’t have Christmas what I am suggesting is that we cannot truly experience the real spirit of Christmas without first celebrating Thanksgiving.
If you had been a Pilgrim, would you have given thanks? Consider what they had been through, the men and women who broke bread together on that first Thanksgiving in 1621.
They had uprooted themselves and sailed for America, an endeavor so hazardous that published guides advised travelers to the New World, “First, make thy will.” The crossing was very rough and the Mayflower was blowing off course. Instead of reaching Virginia where Englishmen and settled 13 years earlier, the Pilgrims ended up in the wilds of Massachusetts. By the time they found a place to make their new home, Plymouth, they called it – winter had set in.
The storms were frightful. Shelter was rudimentary. There was little food. Within weeks, nearly all the settlers were sick. “That which was most sad and lamentable,” Governor William Bradford later recalled, “was that in two or three months’ time, half of their company died, especially in January and February, being the depth of winter, and wanting houses and other comforts; being infected with scurvy and other diseases…There died sometimes two or three of them a day.”
When spring came, Indians showed them how to plant corn, but their first crops were dismal. Supplies ran out, but their sponsors in London refused to send more. The first time the Pilgrims sent a shipment of good to see in England, it was stole by pirates.
If you had been there in 1621 – if you had seen half your friends die, if you had suffered through famine, malnutrition, and sickness, if you had endured a year of heartbreak and tragedy- would you have felt grateful? (Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe Staff 11/23/2000).
Thursday we will eat a meal that people in most parts of the world could only dream of having. We each live a life of incredible ease and luxury even though we may not think so. You would think that all these blessings would make us the most grateful people on earth. But often all this affluence does is really just make us more and more discontented and ungrateful. Often the by-product of having so much is a desire for more. Millionaire John D. Rockefeller was once asked, "How much money does it take to satisfy a man." And he responded, "Just a little more (than what he already has)."
In our text today Paul is writing to Timothy at Ephesus. The church there has gotten a little off tract they have forgotten the real meaning of worship, the real purpose of church, the real celebration of Christ and Paul is instructing Timothy on how to get things back on track. And he says, FIRST, first of all requests, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving need to be made for everyone.
As a society, as the church, we have gotten off tract when comes to the real meaning of Christmas. We need to learn to celebrate Christmas with peace and godliness, we need to stop and First of all make requests, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving for everyone.