Summary: Thanksgiving is uniquely a Christian holiday; from it's origin, to what it promotes, and the new nature it calls for.
A. HUMOR: Thanksgiving Quotes
1. Will Rogers, “Just be thankful you’re not getting all the government you’re paying for!”
2. Sherwood Wirt said, “I remember an elderly lady testifying that she had only two teeth left in her mouth (top & bottom) and was rejoicing because they ‘hit.’”
3. Denny Brake, “You never know how much you have to be thankful for until you pay taxes on it!”
1. Thanksgiving is a distinctively American holiday. It celebrates NO birth, battle, anniversary, or cause/issue.
2. It involves, instead, a condition of the heart – the very scriptural idea of being GRATEFUL TO GOD for blessings received.
3. It’s such a CHRISTIAN holiday, it’s a wonder the ACLU hasn’t filed suit against the government.
4. So we’re going to look at the origins of Thanksgiving, why it’s a very Christian holiday, and one biblical example of it to challenge us.
I. ORIGINS OF THANKSGIVING
A. PILGRIMS THANKSGIVING
1. In 1621 the Pilgrims celebrated the 1st Thanksgiving after surviving the first winter in the New World, at Plymouth.
2. Gov. Bradford’s Thanksgiving Proclamation:
"Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as He has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience.
Now I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and ye little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the daytime, on Thursday, November 29th, of the year of our Lord, 1623, and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings."
1. In 1789, Pres. George Washington issued a Thanksgiving Day Proclamation: “Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor—and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.” Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be—That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks—for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country…”
2. WHAT WAS G. WASHINGTON THANKFUL FOR?
Examples of the miraculous hand of God:
a. When Washington’s Army was forced to retreat in the fall of 1776, they were close to defeat. They had to cross the East River during the night. The wind died, making the river-crossing possible. The withdrawal took too long and they were about to be discovered by the British forces when a dense fog blanketed their section of the river! Washington’s army lived on to fight for seven more years, eventually winning independence – a David defeating Goliath!
b. The second impossibility was that so many men of such talent and humility were gathered in the right place and time. And further, that no political leaders sought to set themselves up as kings/presidents. That the Founders refused to hold on to power was a miracle!
c. The third miracle was that the Republic actually succeeded in forming a good government. Historical experience suggested they would fail. Yet, despite the obstacles, the Constitution was successfully drafted and ratified, and a new government formed. On this Thanksgiving, let us remember why we celebrate. [Joseph Ashby]
3. But Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President, discontinued the Thanksgiving Holiday. In 1828, Mrs. Hale, author of the song, “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” began campaigning for Thanksgiving as a national holiday to be restored.
4. Finally, in 1863, Pres. Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the 4th Thursday in November to be official “National Thanksgiving Day.” It was ratified by Congress in 1941.
II. THANKSGIVING AS A CHRISTIAN HOLIDAY
A. THANKFULNESS IS A SPIRIT
1. The natural impulse of most people is to be ungrateful, discontented, unappreciable, and thankless. We are not born with thankful hearts!
2. Gratitude is usually developed when a person receives a gift which is far more than he/she could acquire themselves. They feel a debt of gratitude toward the giver.