Thanksgiving: A Time of Reflection
Thanksgiving Day is fast approaching. All too soon, if not already, you will begin your preparations for whomever, whatever, and however you will be spending the day.
A friend of mine said recently, “I’m not interested in Thanksgiving or Christmas. I’m just not looking forward to the holidays.”
I can understand the lonely feeling that is often experienced by singles during the holiday season; I was single once myself and away from home during several Thanksgivings and Christmases. It’s nice to be with family or a special someone to celebrate these holidays. Neither Thanksgiving nor Christmas began as a celebration of “me”, but rather as recognition of “us” and “Him”.
How did Thanksgiving begin?
There are several different scenarios regarding the original celebration of “Thanksgiving” on American soil. It is thought that the Spanish were first to celebrate a day of thanks in 1565 in St. Augustine, FLA. Later, in 1619 the Virginia Colony held a Thanksgiving feast in celebration of the one-year settlement of that colony. The Pilgrims in Plymouth, MA celebrated a good crop year with a feast of Thanksgiving in 1621.
Thanksgiving was established as an annual national event in the midst of the Civil War in 1863, by a presidential proclamation from President Abraham Lincoln, as an offering of thanks to God for His provision and preservation of the United States. It was thought that establishing a national day to observe the giving of thanks would help to foster a sense of American unity between the southern and northern states.
So you can see, Thanksgiving as a celebration was about “us” (a group of people) and “God” and our gratitude to Him.
This also demonstrated that during earlier times in our country there was a belief in “Someone” to thank, besides the federal government.
Thanksgiving Day is a time to reflect. There are many things for which I am thankful; some of which are the following:
- my relationship with my heavenly Father through His Son, Jesus, who came not only to die for me on the cross, but also to show me what God the Father is like
- a Christian husband who loves me and treasures our relationship above all other human relationships
- family members – parents, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews
- our “heart adoptions”
Though I was pregnant a couple of times, I was unable to maintain pregnancy; so God brought children into our lives, first as youth group leaders and in a youth pastorate. Then a “daughter” came to us in a more permanent relationship; she is like a birth daughter to us. There are two other young women, foreign students, whom God brought into our lives who lived with us for several years – one as a teen and the other as a young adult – who are family to us. All three of our “daughters” now have husbands and families of their own. There are quite a few more loosely connected “daughters” in our lives.
In this we follow the pattern set for us in our own lives: my husband was legally adopted by a wonderful couple as a child of five years of age. And after my parents died, a pastor and his wife took me as one of their three adopted daughters.
We also have a few “sons”, “nephews”, and “nieces” whom we have taken into our hearts along the way. There are others as well who have adopted us as their parents. I sometimes feel like the barren woman mentioned in Gal. 4:7 & Ps. 113:9:
“Be glad, O barren woman, who bears no children; break forth and cry aloud, you who have no labor pains; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband.”
We have many dear friends that we have made over the years, scattered across the country and around the world; people whose absence of years fades away immediately each time we are reunited with them. Plus there are many friends from our two pastorates. Some of these people are closer than birth family in our on-going relationships with them.
God has given me many personal opportunities over the years to develop and use my gifts of music, writing, public speaking, and spiritual ministry to bring others to Him and to encourage the body of Christ, across denominational lines. I’ve traveled up and down the east coast, in the mid-west, in Canada and in several other countries to share my faith in Christ with others. It has given me a broader picture of the body of Christ. There have also been opportunities for television work in my early ministry and for co-hosting a radio program with my husband for a couple years. I’m thankful for the ability to express faith in God through my current writing venues.
I am thankful for the many challenges in my life that have tested, tempered, and firmed my faith in a loving God who is worthy to be entrusted with my life. Losses, health issues, lack of regular income, disappointments, and some temporary discouragements have been a few of those challenges. They have served to secure my faith-walk and deepen my peace.
I trust that as you see Thanksgiving Day approaching you will get your eyes off of the minor disturbances of your life, and train your eyes to see the good things that often are obscured by petty irritations and worthless drains of spiritual and emotional energy – things that tend to empty your life of peace and joy, rather than to fill it with awareness of the good gifts of a loving God.
Ask God today to show you how you can add to someone’s experience of Thanksgiving Day – a call, a note or email, a visit, or an invitation to share Thanksgiving dinner at your house. Be sure also to share with someone else the things for which you are thankful.
©2011, Marcy Alves
Posted on November 24, 2015, in Christian Growth, Follow Me, My Journey, Reflections and tagged Abraham Lincoln, Christianity, faith, Family, friends, giving of thanks, God, origin of Thanksgiving, Pilgrim, thankfulness, thanks, Thanksgiving, trust, Virginia Colony. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.