What a great time we all look forward to this upcoming November 22th. Only a few are able to still "go over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's (and Grandfather's) house" in a horse drawn carriage or wagon or even a Model A Ford.
Some will have to spend the day alone again but will do their best to be on the phone with loved ones while praying for someone to drop by. Those who have no one to call or be visited may find enjoyment watching familiar faces of those who have become their television friends but still it will be lonely -- especially if they have recently lost a loved one.
Thanksgiving is a time of fellowship, food and gratitude - acknowledging God's provision in all ways and for the opportunity of helping someone else in service and genuine love the past year. Sometimes things interfere with the purpose of the day when the enemy is allowed to slip in. Preparation with prayer is always a good thing to remember.
Thanksgiving Day and the following weekend seem to always be an enjoyable experience even if we are in pain, away from family, serving in the military, on assignment away from home, or have lost much of your hope from outside forces.
It's such a great time -- seeing family and friends, recalling previous celebrations that carry us back -- even to childhood. How many times will a conversation revert to memories and forgotten incidents we had with loved ones who are no longer with us at the Thanksgiving table or enjoying the warmth of the fireplace like old times?
Some time ago, when spending time researching information about Thanksgiving, I was reminded that every culture has had a time of gratitiude for having a successful harvest -- a gift of blessings from whomever they look to for life. For followers of Jesus Christ, of course it's our Creator, our precious Father God. Our American Thanksgiving and the October Day of Thanksgiving in Canada are not religious observances, but for believers it certainly involves our faith in, love for and gratitude to our Heavenly Triune God.
Many cultures in history have seen their food harvest as the direct intervention of their supreme being or beings in whom they believe. Special events, at that time, were used to signify this relationship that expressed itself in a time of feasting and fellowship.
In the Old Testament, one of the religious events Jewish families celebrated was a harvest festival called Succoth -- the Feast of Tabernacles or the Feast of the Ingathering.
It had been estblished in the early years of the people (during the years of wandering) who became Israel and the Jewish nation. Taking place each autumn, Succoth has been celebrated for over 3000 years. Succoth begins on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Tishri, 5 days after Yom Kippur the most solemn day of the Jewish year.
Succoth was named for the tents (succots) that Moses and the Israelites lived in as they wandered the desert for 40 years before they reached the Promised Land. These huts were made of branches and were easy to assemble, take apart, and carry as the Israelites wandered through the desert.
During this 8 day festival, the Jewish people would build small huts or tents of branches which recall the tabernacles of their ancestors as they journeyed from Egypt to the Promised Land. The huts were constructed as temporary shelters. The roof was covered with foliage spaced to let light in. Inside the huts hung fruits and vegetables, including apples, grapes, grain, and pomegranates. On the first 2 nights of Sukkoth the families ate their meals in the huts under the evening sky. The purpose of the celebration was to recognize God as their provider and express gratitude for that blessing.
Here in the New World In 1621, after a hard and devastating first year, the Pilgrim's fall harvest was very successful and plentiful. There was corn, fruits, vegetables, along with fish which was packed in salt, and meat that was smoke cured over fires. The Pilgrims found they had enough food to put away for the winter.
They had beaten the odds. They built homes in the wilderness, and raised enough crops to keep them alive during the long coming winter. At peace with their Indian neighbors, Governor William Bradford proclaimed a day of gratitude and praise that was to be shared by all the colonists and the neighboring Native American Indians.
The custom of an annually celebrated thanksgiving, held after the harvest, continued through the years. During the American Revolution (late 1770's) a day of national thanksgiving was suggested by the Continental Congress.
In 1817 New York State adopted Thanksgiving Day as an annual custom. By the middle of the 19th century many other states also celebrated a Thanksgiving Day. In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln declared a national day of Thanksgiving. Since then each president has issued a Thanksgiving Day proclamation, usually designating the fourth Thursday of each November as the holiday.
It's going to be a wonderful time with family!!! Help make it so. It will be a great opportunity for you to live your testimony of a committed life in Christ to family and friends.
But watch out for Black Friday, a day that starts the Christmas buying frenzy when merchants determine whether they will have a profitable year or not.
In previous years stores do anything possible to get crowds in their stores from slashed prices to free breakfasts. Why Black Friday? Because it's such a terrible day of exhaustion, too many people, or no parking space? No. It's Black Friday because it tells the retailer if they will have a profitable year and end up in the black. Most stores depend on the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas to give them a profitable operation for the year.
That's why we have to experience all the hype and promotion of consumerism and their profit-making Winter Festival. Its promotion in our culture used to begin right after Thansgiving. You are quite awareYou must take actions to keep your focus on tha Advent and the Incarnation - God becoming flesh in His desire to seek and save that which was lost and redeem us.
Longtime friend of Come and See Minstries -norman plunkett