Thanksgiving is a special day to reflect on the blessings in our lives. Each year the commercial field zeros in on Halloween and then, presto, the stores are set up and full of Christmas decorations. Thanksgiving is sandwiched in between the fun of Halloween and the sales on Black Friday, which is a huge commercial day for sales on Christmas gifts. Thanksgiving has become turkey day, hunting week and Christmas shopping. Less thought has been given to being thankful for all our creator has provided for us.
We live in America where our forefathers gave up everything to be in a place where they could worship their God. The first Thanksgiving was their way of counting their blessings and thanking their God for the new country where they were free to worship. How has this generation failed to keep these hallowed truths alive? Have our blessings of material things overshadowed the blessings of the love of our creator who blessed us with all of our needs? Now is the time to make a difference in our lives and the lives of others. We need to count our blessings and be a blessing to someone else. Those who know that they are loved are blessed. Those who know that there is someone to lean on are blessed. Those who know of a special peace that cannot be described are blessed. Those who live in freedom are blessed.
The world is moving at such a fast pace that we forget to be thankful for the little things. We have become so used to having everything we need and want that when we do not have what we want, we find it hard to count our blessings. Disasters make us more aware of the many blessings we have every day. Folks make more of an effort to help each other in time of great need. There are needs every day and there are opportunities every day to be a blessing to others.
Since the beginning of this year, we have been faced with a pandemic of the Coronavirus which has continued to keep many at home, children out of school, businesses closed, families separated and friends unable to get together and visit. We are being told that we should not be together this Thanksgiving due to the spread of the virus. If we are unable to have family dinners, we still need to be thankful for our families and friends and find ways to reach out to those we love.
Take time to make a list of the blessings you have. Take time to say “Thank You” to someone who makes you smile, who helps you at the store, who answers your call when you have a problem, who is a special friend when you feel alone or sad. Make this Thanksgiving a day of thanks for the little things. Make this Thanksgiving a day to reach out to those who need you. Make this Thanksgiving a day to share the love of family and friends. Count your blessings on Thanksgiving Day and each day forward. Take time to thank our God who makes all things possible. The truest measure of our thanksgiving is how we use the blessings for which we give thanks.
Thanksgiving was first celebrated by our forefathers who came to America to be free to make choices on where they lived, what type of work they were interested in, build communities where families could get together and worship their God. The first Thanksgiving was held on Berkeley Plantation in a Virginia town now called Charles City. On December 4, 1916, 39 English settlers arrived on the James River to settle in Virginia. Their charter required them to set aside a day of thanksgiving to God for bringing them to a new home. The Plymouth Rock settlers celebrated their first thanksgiving feast with the Native Americans in 1620 after arriving to their new home in America. They came to this new land of America to have religious freedom. Thanksgiving Day became a national holiday in 1863 when Sarah Hale convinced President Lincoln that there should be a day set aside to show our gratitude and thanksgiving for all of our blessings.
I wrote about Thanksgiving several years ago and mentioned that it would be a sad day in the future if God would be left out of Thanksgiving and the day would just be a day without thought of all we should thank God for. I hope and pray that families will find a way to connect on November 26, even if families are not in the same home sharing a special meal and special memories together. I pray that each person and each family find ways to share their blessings and be thankful for a God who gave us this nation as our home. This nation we call America has been a place to raise our children in freedom to worship as we wish, the freedom of speech, the freedom to have our own homes, the jobs we choose and the right to protect our families. Our forefathers did not have the same culture, the same beliefs, the same language, the same color of skin. Over 400 years ago, our families sat down with the Native Indians and shared a meal in thanksgiving for all that they had been blessed with. Our Presidents finish their speeches with “God Bless America.” This Thanksgiving, we need to pray for our country and other nations along with our military, and our new leaders. We as Americans need to be vigilant and be sure that our nation, which was based on God, continues to be able to use the worlds “God Bless America.” We need to continue to live in a nation that is One Nation Under God with Liberty and Justice for all.
No matter where you are this Thanksgiving, take the time to make a list of all the blessings you have in your life. Take the time to share these blessings with others and “Thank God” for all He has done for America and the families who live here. We are one people of God and my prayer is for America to shine God’s light with and to all those around us. I pray that we as a nation may be healed and to use our blessings to bless others. God’s message has always been to Love One Another as He loves all of His children. The truest measure of our thanksgiving is how we use the blessings for which we give thanks.
I wish to leave you with these worlds taken from a Call to Worship during a Sunday morning church service.
The Lord has done great things for us and we rejoice!
Count your blessings instead of your crosses; count your gains instead of your losses.
Count your smiles instead of your tears; count your courage instead of your fears.
Count your health instead of your wealth; count on God instead of yourself.
Happy Thanksgiving! I wish you and your family a Thanksgiving full of blessings. May God’s grace bring you peace and love.