Summary: Thanksgiving Day Sermon
THE TRUTH ABOUT THANKSGIVING
A young woman teacher with obvious liberal tendencies explains to her class of small children that she is an atheist. She asks her class if they are atheists too. Not really knowing what atheism is but wanting to be like their teacher, their hands explode into the air like fleshy fireworks.
There is, however, one exception. A beautiful girl named Lucy has not gone along with the crowd. The teacher asks her why she has decided to be different.
"Because I’m not an atheist."
Then, asks the teacher, "What are you?"
"I’m a Christian."
The teacher is a little perturbed now, her face slightly red. She asks Lucy why she is a Christian.
"Well, I was brought up knowing and loving Jesus. My mom is a Christian, and my dad is a Christian, so I am a Christian."
The teacher is now angry. "That’s no reason," she says loudly.
"What if your mom was a moron, and your dad was a moron. What would you be then?"
She paused, and smiled. "Then," says Lucy, "I’d be an atheist."
It’s easy to say no thanks at times. Along with 9-11, this year has been a difficult year to give thanks or utter the word “thanksgiving.?First, the tsunami flooded the islands, then Hurricane Katrina ravaged the coasts of New Orleans and Mississippi, and the earthquakes killed an over eighty thousand people in inland Pakistan. The latest number is 87,500 people but the numbers keep piling and disasters keep worsening.
Psalm 100 comes with a unique title attached to this psalm rare to others. Most salutations in psalms, as you know, come with gestures such as “To the chief musician,?“A psalm of David,?“A psalm of Asaph?or “A psalm for the sons of Korah.?They are usually name- related, honoring people or identifying authors. The Hebrew designation or sub-heading of Psalm 100, on the other hand, consists of two simple and modest words ?“psalm?and “of thanksgiving,?or “a psalm of thanksgiving.?
Most scholars see this passage this way: Verses 1-2 and verse 4 are introductions for verse 3 and 6 respectively, which are the reasons for thanksgiving or the grounds for praise.
Thanksgiving Must Be First and Foremost Given
Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
2 Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Charlie Brown’s sister Sally had an important piece of news for Charlie Brown. It was so secretive that she had to make sure the coast was clear as she took him to a hiding place to tell the news. First, she opened the door to make sure no one else was around the house. Then she waved him to follow her. Once outside her room and into the living room, they both looked outside the glass windows to see if anyone was listening. Finally the two kids crept on their knees to hide behind the living room sofa before Sally blurted the news in a hush voice to his brother: “We prayed in school today.?
Thanksgiving is a believer’s celebration, a public holiday but an atheist’s nightmare. It’s been said, “Who do atheists thank on Thanksgiving??and “Can an atheist really celebrate Thanksgiving??Besides saying “Thanks for nothing,?atheists can only thank the family and friends and themselves.
An atheist leader was asked, “How does an atheist cope with everyday life in America? Is there anything to believe in at all??The atheist responded, “No, nothing. We don’t believe in anything. I suppose you could say we ’believe?in decent behavior. We ’believe?decent behavior is a social construct learned from the days when we lived in caves. But you have to remember the word ’belief?is a religion-based construct."
The word thanksgiving or “yadhah,?in the title, occurs 32 times in the Bible, 12 times in Psalms, and twice in this passage, including verse 4.
We are called to express thanksgiving in a big way to God, not to hold back our praises and not to second-guess him. The three verbs in verses 1 and 2 are “shout for joy,?“worship?and “come.?It might surprise you to know that the phrase “shout for joy?is just one word in Hebrew. Some translators prefer the phrase “make a joyful noise.?
The Israelites were no strangers to this approach to worship, which was a significant and vital approach in the temple and even on the battlefield. The first use of the word was when God instructed the sons of Aaron, the priests, to blow or sound the trumpets to gather the assembly (Num 10:7). Also, this is the same shouting the Israelites did on the road to victory when they encircled the city of Jericho that later came tumbling down (Josh 6:10). Externally, the contemporary terms would be to raise the roof, cause a din, clamor for attention, make a racket and holler for awareness.