“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever.” Psalm 136:1
With one half of the world soon sitting down to give thanks for the blessings of this year, the tradition of thanksgiving is primarily set in its’ origins as a time of gratitude and togetherness to thank God for a bountiful harvest. This practice is prevalent throughout the world from the New Yam Festival (Iwa Ji) in Nigeria to the Tsukimi celebrated in Japan and the Flores de Mayo in Philippines. While the Jewish harvest festivals are Sukkot and Shavuot, Germany and Russia celebrate Oktoberfest and Oseniny respectively. In the India, from Akhatrij in the west India to Lohri and Holi in North India and Monti Fest, Onam, Vishu and Pongal in South India as well as Dree Festival, Vasant Panchami and Tokhu Emong in Eastern India; harvest is a time for thanksgiving for the bountiful crop akin as God’s blessings.
“So once in every year we throng
Upon a day apart,
To praise the Lord with feast and song
In thankfulness of heart.” – Arthur Guiterman
The reason justified for holding the Thanksgiving Day or Harvest Festivals is so that man doesn’t forget to thank for the blessings and when it is introduced as a part of the tradition and culture, then it will be ingrained in him for the years and generations to come. Though amidst all the celebrations of the holidays with its due share of commercialization, time should be taken out for prayer and sharing the faith that we believe in. There should be a balance between the physical or material things and the spiritual aspect as well. Too much of either doesn’t do us any good. Hyper-physicality is when gratitude for the physical is there but the spiritual part is neglected. On the hand, hyper-spirituality is when we can be prone to tune out God’s physical goodness to us out of the fear that appreciation for that would lose us our spiritual blessings.
From miracles to partaking in meals, our Lord had always given thanks to His Father before the meal. To quote the scriptures, before raising Lazarus from the dead the Lord had said, John 11:41: “…they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me.’” Matthew 15:36 says: Jesus “took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples … ” In Corinthians I 11:23–24: Our “Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it… ”
“Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year because it reminds us to give thanks and to count our blessings. Suddenly, so many things become so little when we realize how blessed and lucky we are. Joyce Giraud”
Also evident in the apostle Paul’s letters, Christians are encouraged to to have lives characterized by thanksgiving. In Colossians 3:15–17 : “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” In Ephesians 5:20: “… giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” And Thessalonians I, 5:18: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings. William Arthur Ward
We shouldn’t limit ourselves to give thanks for His Grace and His Blessings for a day or couple of days in the year, but rather every day should be counted as a blessing. Unfortunately amidst the busy days we find ourselves, we often forget to do that. As this year end approaches, let us resolve to keep in mind the gratitude and kindness we have received either as material gifts, relationships or random acts of kindness and blessings ( what some of us may call as “luck”).
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – John Fitzgerald Kennedy