Thanksgiving, though not usually thought of as a proper Christian holiday (as it does not commemorate an event in Christ’s life), is a wonderful opportunity to practice a very Christian principle. The obvious is that this week reminds us to pause and reflect on the things we are grateful for, thus leading us to thank those around us through whom those blessings come. This ultimately should lead us to give thanks to the Giver of all gifts, God Almighty.
But taking this a level deeper, the history of this holiday is rich with meaning; our early American ancestors had a rather rough time settling into the New World. After many trials (famine, winter, disease, death) they finally succeeded (with the help of the Indians) in growing sufficient crops to last them through the winter. They set aside several days at the end of this first harvest to feast in gratitude for God’s provision of their earthly needs.
This holiday has always been associated with harvest, grain, and in agrarian cultures this would obviously lead to gratitude. In our supermarket world, good (and not so good) food is readily available year round. Then, a bad harvest meant a higher likelihood of disease and death; thus, a bountiful harvest would bring a sense of joyous relief and grateful gladness.
As we celebrate this week, do not let it slip past you that Christ arose on the first day of the harvest season, as a first fruits offering unto God (Ex. 23:16). His seed fell into the ground and died, and now is bringing forth a great harvest of souls (Jn. 12:24). Jesus came to begin the great harvest season of redemptive history. He declared the fields of this world are ripe for harvesting (Jn. 4:35), and with his resurrection became the first fruits of God’s great soul harvest. He then sent forth His apostles with the commission to sow the seed of the Gospel and reap the harvest of souls whom God redeemed.
Though now wheat and tares grow up together, our task is not to be disregarded or ignored; but we are to plow in faith, sow in faith, and reap in faith…knowing that soon God will fill the garners of the new earth with His saints, and cast the false sons into the eternal fire of judgement. So, celebrate Thanksgiving this year with great joy and great purpose. Be exceedingly thankful if indeed the Gospel has been sown into your life and brought forth the fruit of repentance. God has been good to us, and the best is yet to come (see Revelation 21-22). So go wrap food in bacon, pour sugary syrup over pecans and bake it in the oven, lift up a cup of creamy hot chocolate, and rejoice mightily in the harvest that will soon be complete! Happy Thanksgiving!
1 Come, ye thankful people, come, raise the song of harvest home;
all is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied;
come to God’s own temple, come, raise the song of harvest home.
2 All the world is God’s own field, fruit as praise to God we yield;
wheat and tares together sown are to joy or sorrow grown;
first the blade and then the ear, then the full corn shall appear;
Lord of harvest, grant that we wholesome grain and pure may be.
3 For the Lord our God shall come, and shall take the harvest home;
from the field shall in that day all offenses purge away,
giving angels charge at last in the fire the tares to cast;
but the fruitful ears to store in the garner evermore.
4 Even so, Lord, quickly come, bring thy final harvest home;
gather thou thy people in, free from sorrow, free from sin,
there, forever purified, in thy presence to abide;
come, with all thine angels, come, raise the glorious harvest home.
As a Thanksgiving gift to you all, Elsje and I tried this recipe last year and substituted the chicken for a turkey. It was rather tasty…and as an added tip, wrap the turkey with Prosciutto. You won’t regret it!