Take a minute and think about the above question - what's the first thing that comes to mind? Pilgrims? Dinner at Grandma's? An attitude of gratitude? Turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, pumpkin pie? Football? One day til Black Friday??
I don't know what your answer is, but last night at our Thanksgiving Eve service my thoughts shifted from my response to God's. In God's eyes what is Thanksgiving all about? I have to believe it means more than setting aside the fourth Thursday in November for food, fellowship and football.
As we walked through scripture, we found that is the case. Thanksgiving was first mentioned in the Bible in Leviticus 7:12, "If you present your peace offering as a thanksgiving offering..." The passage goes on to explain what was necessary to make the sacrifice acceptable to God. Many steps were involved to give an offering of thanks, a process we don't think about today.
It's true, God's expectations back then are different than they are today - He no longer wants or needs us to sacrifice an animal. He sent His Son years ago as the lamb who took away the sin of the world. So as you reflect on your Thanksgiving day don't worry about failing to carry out the procedure required of the initial thanksgiving offering, but do please take some time to think about what that offering should look like in the here and now.
For a clearer picture turn to Romans 12:1, "And so dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice - the kind He will accept. When you think of what He has done for you, is this too much to ask? " Thankfully, God no longer asks us to go through the grueling (and gross) process of animal sacrifice instead He gives us even a bigger challenge - He wants us to give up our bodies, our very lives for Him.
And on a day designated as Thanksgiving that may seem easy - we set aside time, prepare a wonderful meal, gather with family and friends, offer thanks for the blessings and then prepare for the biggest shopping day of the year. In the busyness of it all, do we really stop and think about thanks giving? What should that look like?
Think of all He's blessed you with, starting with salvation - is it enough to pause on one day out of 365 and have a grateful heart? I don't think so, but this Thanksgiving I'm seeing things differently than I have in the past. It's not that I've been ungrateful - really for the most part I've usually been a thankful gal, but the holiday is thanksGIVING and it's not just a state of mind, this word involves some action.
On the world's calendar it's one day out of the year, but in God's eyes I believe He sees Thanksgiving as a way of life. And again this is my interpretation but I believe He expects more than words of thanks - it's our living sacrifice that truly shows our gratitude and glorifies His name.
So on a day when perhaps you sent a card to say "Thank you" or gave a hug with a grateful heart take a minute and think about how you can thank our Father in heaven. And though thanking the ones we love is important, and enjoyable too, giving thanks to God daily is what it's all about.
This can't be done with a card or a big meal, but there's something we can give. And I think it's wonderfully explained by the words in my son's board book, "What can I give him as small as I am? I will give Him my life."