Summary: A sermon for the Sunday before Thanksgiving.
“The Forgotten Holiday”
If we were to mark our calendars according to television commercials, mall decorations, and movies we might figure that some “high official” somewhere, who makes the decisions about things, has decided that we are to just skip Thanksgiving altogether.
Rebecca, our secretary, was telling me that before Halloween she was in Dollar General and heard Bing Crosby singing “White Christmas.”
I mean, back in September or even late August, we all started noticing that everything was being Christma-fied…
…that is, minus a few store isles that were reserved for Halloween candy and costumes.
Before our very eyes: out came the holiday cups, Christmas trees, singing Santa’s, the overly large sweaters hanging in stores, lay away ads and of course, as I said Christmas music!!!
Many folks complain that Christmas has been hijacked and exploited…
…which it has…
…but more about that next month.
So what has happened to Thanksgiving?
There may be some good reasons why Thanksgiving gets the short end of the Holiday stick.
For one, there are no gifts.
For another, Thanksgiving promotes socially acceptable behavior.
I mean, we are not dressing up like ghouls and knocking on people’s doors expecting to be rewarded!!!
We are not putting a large piece of foliage in the middle of our living space.
We are not sticking our heads in overhead lamps and under couches looking for plastic eggs.
We are sitting around a table…eating…like just about every other night.
Even the 4th of July has fireworks!!!
So, we have Halloween, Christmas, Easter, Summer…
…and sandwiched in there is Thanksgiving: that awkward in-between stage.
Could it be, that, in our culture we aren’t so interested in giving thanks?
Or perhaps, we don’t think we have much to give thanks for.
Our Scripture Lesson for this morning is the 100th Psalm which was originally written for the people of Israel.
God had basically said to them, “When you come into the promised land, and settle down in your warm homes, and you have plenty to eat…
…don’t forget Me…
…I led you out of the wilderness and I brought you into a land flowing with milk and honey.”
But Israel needed a lot of reminders, and so do we.
I believe God had us in mind, as well, when this Psalm was written.
Notice to whom it is addressed.
The first verse says that it’s addressed to “all the earth,” and the last says that it includes “all generations.”
It is so important for us, physically, psychologically and spiritually to “give thanks” and therefore this Psalm applies to every person of every generation who has ever lived!!!
Webster’s New World Dictionary defines the word Thanksgiving as “a formal public expression of thanks to God.”
And there is something about giving thanks together to God which breaks down barriers between people.
Thanksgiving is something we need!!!
As a matter of fact, a growing body of research has tied an attitude of gratitude with a number of positive emotional and health benefits.
An article in The Wall Street Journal summarized the research like this:
“Adults who frequently feel grateful have more energy, more optimism, more social connections and more happiness than those who do not…
…they are also less likely to be depressed, envious, greedy or alcoholics.
They earn more money, sleep more soundly, exercise more regularly, and have greater resistance to viral infections.”
The article ends with, “The key [to benefiting from an attitude of gratitude] is not to leave it on the Thanksgiving table.”
Psalm 100 is a hymn that was sung while entering the Temple, and it probably was done in connection with a thanksgiving ceremony.
Just look at what Psalm 100 emphasizes…
…let’s just scan the Psalm…
In verse 1 we find the name of the Lord…
In verse 2 we find the name of the Lord…
In verse 3 we find the name of the Lord…
In verse 4 it says, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving…”
In verse 5 we are told “For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”
The basis for our Thanksgiving is “The Lord”!!!
Alex Haley, the author of Roots, had an unusual picture hanging on his office wall.
It was a picture of a turtle on top of a fence post.
When asked, “Why is that there?,” Haley answered, “Every time I write something significant, every time I read my words and think that they are wonderful…
…and I begin to feel proud of myself…
…I look at the turtle on top of the fence post and remember that he didn’t get there on his own.
He had help!”
Verse 3 reminds us, “Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.”