Summary: My own expression of an outline adapted from James MacDonald’s sermon of the same name. Living a thankful life is beyond the childhood learning of saying a dutiful thank-you for everything we receive and the adolescent development of reminding ourselves o
The School Of Thanksgiving!
*Outline from James McDonald*
Here’s the problem I have on a morning like this. I grew up in a secular home where we celebrated with gusto the holidays. You’ve heard me share with you about the materialism of the Willis family Christmas. But not just Christmas, holidays in general were big deals to us. If there was a long weekend there was sure to be a special outing or at the very least a family feast. I was probably 13 years old before I realized that the Easter weekend was the commemoration of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Easter in our house was a mixture between Christmas and Hallowe’en, scaled down and in warmer weather. We always got a toy at Easter and we got plenty of junk food and there was always a family feast. Growing up, thanksgiving commemorated for me most of all the first long weekend of the school year. It was the first break from school, and it really was all about the food, about the family event, getting to stay up late on Sunday night and sleep in on Monday morning. I can’t ever remember feeling exceptionally thankful on Thanksgiving weekends, just exceptionally excited about lots of turkey, mashed potatoes, stove top stuffing, and that fake cheese cake from a box that my wife still refuses to make for me (If its not from scratch it just doesn’t cut it).
Starting when I began to follow Christ, but progressing into my adulthood I tried to seek more of a sacred understanding of holidays. I don’t want a fake thanksgiving . . . I want true thanksgiving. But that’s difficult, not simple in the culture that we live in.
History tells us that the commemoration of the first thanksgivings in the United States and Canada dealt with a desire for people to thank Almighty God for what they had . . . and it wasn’t because they had the abundance that we all have . . . abundance for them simply was to live another day . . . that there was something to eat . . . that they were not dead of disease. That they didn’t die on the agonizingly long and dangerous boat journey from Europe to the Americas. Day to day life was way more concerned with survival. We live in an era of so much abundance that our days are really more about leisure then they are about survival. We have so much abundance in our culture that we have a 24 hour cable station called the Food Network and all they air all day and all night is different ways to ‘prepare’ the abundance. We have so much we have to take time to figure out what to do with it all!
Do you want a true thanksgiving? Maybe its just me . . . but why am I haunted by the thought that the first people who celebrated thanksgiving were far more thankful than those of us who live in this era? Who after all has more to be thankful for, us or them? We simply have abundantly more than they did, but I would suggest that when we have the proverbial silver spoon shoved in our mouth it makes it very difficult for the words thank-you to be heard.
READ: 1 Chronicles 29:10-13
The message of 1 Chronicles 12 is that God is the provider and the proper response to a provider is thanksgiving! This is the basis . . . the foundation of thanksgiving. If you will, we can call it . . .
1. Grade School Thanksgiving – 1 Chronicles 29:12-13
I haven’t raised children but I’ve had plenty of friends who have and Irene and I have had the opportunity to be in relationship over the years with many young families. We love kids. Over the years when we’ve spent time with young families I’ve really marveled at the great job that it is to teach our children to be thankful. If you have young children or are grandparents . . . you know all too well what I mean. It’s one of those things you have to keep on as a parent.
Every time your child receives something from someone else. Every time a child shares a toy or a cookie, you’re on them to make sure that they say thank-you. As someone who occasionally has the privilege of spending time with small children, I’ve often been on the receiving end of awkward exchanges. Maybe we’ve given a child a gift, or there’s a family in our home and I give their child something special to eat from the pantry or the cookie jar and there is this almost chant like response from the parent . . . “what do you say to Mr. Willis”, “say thank-you to Mr. Willis”. I don’t know about you . . . but its always made me feel uncomfortable. . . maybe because I don’t expect a thank-you for something I consider so small . . . or maybe because someone else telling someone to say thank-you and then receiving an almost forced thank-you to me doesn’t seem to add up to a real thank-you. But I understand it . . . I’ll do it with my kids as well, but why do we do it. Is it because we don’t want to be embarrassed by our kids, because we’re concerned about the right thing, or is it because we want our kids to be thankful people. My hope is that we want our kids to be thankful people!