It’s Black Friday. It’s the start of the holiday season. If you’ve walked into Target, Costco, or Macy’s lately, you know holiday festivities have commenced. Christmas décor in full display, Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole crooning from the ceiling speakers, and crazed shoppers eager to fill gift lists.
For my family, the holidays don’t begin with Christmas (although we love Christmas). The holidays begin with Thanksgiving.
Every fourth Thursday in November, our country, the United States, observes national Thanksgiving. The first Thanksgiving took place in 1621 between the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians who shared an autumn harvest feast. More than two centuries later, in 1863, in the midst of Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.
So why celebrate Thanksgiving? As a Christian, can we find thanksgiving in the Bible? Actually, we can. Throughout the Old Testament, particularly Leviticus 23, scripture outlines Seven Feasts of the Lord. The feasts are designed to give God thanks. Jesus himself observed each feast without fail.
It’s amazing to see history repeat itself. Just like God set up the Seven Feasts, one of our country’s greatest Presidents instituted national Thanksgiving. Secretary of State under President Lincoln, William H. Seward, penned a Proclamation, signed by the President, dated October 3, 1863. May the words of this remarkable Proclamation ring true in our hearts today.
“…I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union…” (read the whole Proclamation).
So, even though Thanksgiving Day has come and gone, this great proclamation sets the tone for how we celebrate the rest of the holiday season. You and I share the great responsibility to remember our Thanksgiving to Almighty God. Reminisce on God’s goodness in your life. With family and friends, share Thanksgiving together for the weeks to come. Pause and reflect on what God has done for you. As a nation under God, it is our privilege to give thanks to our Creator. Keep celebrating Thanksgiving.
What can you do this holiday season to give thanks and praise?
Kirk Ellis is the Music Pastor at Project Church. He loves seeing people reach their full potential and become what God has designed them to be. He is passionate about the church and loves seeing it serve the community. He and his wife Paige have three children, Gloria, Violet, and Ezekiel.