Summary: In this sermon, we investigate the what, why, when and how of being thankful.
A. I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day filled with family, food, and fun! We did!
1. How many of you ladies or gentleman cooked the turkey for last Thursday?
2. Was it anyone’s first attempt at cooking a turkey?
3. I hope your experience wasn’t like Helen Hayes’ first experience.
4. Helen Hayes was an American Actress whose career spanned 80 years, she died in 1993.
a. When Helen was just about to serve the first turkey she ever cooked, she announced this to her husband and their son: “Now I know this is the first turkey I’ve ever cooked. If it isn’t right, I don’t want anybody to say a word. We’ll just get up from the table, without comment, and go down to the hotel for dinner.”
b. After making that announcement, she went into the kitchen to get the turkey, when she returned to the dining room with turkey in hand, she found her husband and son seated at the table wearing their hats and coats!
c. I guess they had had some previous experience with Helen’s cooking.
B. Here are a few short funnies for Thanksgiving:
1. Why did the turkey cross the road? It was the chicken’s day off.
2. What sound does a space turkey make? Hubble, Hubble, Hubble.
3. When asked to write a composition entitled: “What I’m thankful for on Thanksgiving,” a young boy wrote: “On Thanksgiving Day, I’m thankful I am not a turkey!”
a. I’m thankful I am not a turkey on any day, how about you?
C. Thanksgiving Day is an important holiday for our country because of the attitude it represents.
1. Thanksgiving Day has morphed into a day of food and football, but it was instituted to be a day to recognize our blessings and to be thankful to the One from whom those blessings come.
2. For the Christian, an attitude of thanksgiving is an attribute that should characterize the Christian every day, not just on Thanksgiving Day.
D. Before we look at what the Bible says about the importance of a thankful attitude, let me share a brief history of Thanksgiving Day, because it is helpful for us to know the history of important things.
1. The year was 1623 (that’s 395 years ago), and William Bradford, the Governor of Plymouth Colony called its citizens together for a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God.
On that occasion, Bradford said these words: “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…, 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 one thousand six hundred and twenty three 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.”
2. In 1789, 166 years later, President George Washington issued a Thanksgiving Day Proclamation to commemorate the first Pilgrim celebration.
Here is a portion of what Washington wrote: “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…”
3. Six years later, in 1795, George Washington proclaimed a second day of Thanksgiving, following the defeat of the Whiskey Rebellion.
4. After Washington left office, John Adams, James Madison, and others periodically declared days of Thanksgiving.
5. Several presidents opposed days of national thanksgiving, with Thomas Jefferson openly denouncing such a proclamation, calling it “a kingly practice.