In 1621, Massachusetts Governor William Bradford organized a celebration, day to offer thanksgiving. He had reason to be thankful. He, along with a group of people known as the Pilgrims, had survived a brutal winter, received life-saving help from an English speaking Native American, and enjoyed their first autumn harvest. The Pilgrims arrived in what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts, eager to experience the freedom to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
The tradition continues to this day. As we prepare once again to celebrate a day of thanksgiving, let’s take three days and, like the Pilgrims, reflect on the many blessings we have received even if we are in a tough season. We will look to the Bible and see what it says about the preparation for a feast, the presentation of the feast prepared for our friends and family and the preservation of the leftovers following the feast!
Preparation. The Apostle Paul writes to Timothy and encourages him to be prepared and preach the Gospel. “Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke and encourage your people with good teaching.” 2 Timothy 4:2 (NLT)
In 1621 as the Pilgrims prepared to gather with their Native American, neighbors they must have been ready to share the love of Christ as they showed appreciation and gratitude for the success of the autumn harvest.
Just as we also gather and forage for holiday accoutrements and delicacies in preparation for a Thanksgiving feast, we must be prepared to share the light of Jesus!
We live in a hurting world, and often the hurt is in our own homes. Remember we are ambassadors for Christ. We must put on love as a garment, and prepare our homes to be a place where love pours out. We are called to bear one another’s burdens. We are encouraged to be a light in the darkness. What better place to show the love of Christ than our homes?
How can you prepare your home to be a place where gratitude and love abound? Can you name ways you can be ready to offer words of truth and encouragement even with those who don’t know Jesus? Holidays can be stressful. What are some ways you prepare your family to avoid the stress triggers? Share below.
Presentation. Remember the exuberance the father expressed when his wayward son returned home? “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast.’” Luke 15: 22,23 (NLT)
The overjoyed father thought he had lost his son forever. He was happily mistaken, and when his son returned, he immediately ordered a feast to be prepared in his son’s honor. The remaining Pilgrims had just survived the treacherous winter. Like the prodigal’s father, they knew there was good reason for celebration on this first Thanksgiving Day!
There are different accounts as to how the Pilgrims and the members of the Wampanoag and Pawtuxet Tribes came together that fall day, but somehow, they united and broke bread together.
On this Thanksgiving Day, can we make our home a place of grand celebration? Can we shower our guests with love and thankfulness? Serving a feast to loved ones with a posture of gratitude will convey appreciation and acceptance. The Apostle Paul reminds us it is God’s will to be thankful in all circumstances! (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
As we prepare the day of feasting, let’s first feast on His word. Let’s be ready, as Paul mentioned, to encourage people with good teaching! Let’s stand prepared with a word of hope or comfort.
Can you list ideas to support a home of celebration? What are ways you show the love of Christ through action? We would love to know your family’s Thanksgiving tradition. Please share how your day of food, fellowship, and fun reflects the Lord’s presence. Thanksgiving Day is a beautiful day to reflect on a psalm of Thanksgiving, Psalm 100!
“Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before Him, singing with joy. Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are His. We are His people, the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving; go into His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and His faithfulness continues to each generation.” Psalm 100: 1-5 (NLT)
Preservation. Jesus saw a great multitude of people following Him and knew they would need to eat. A young boy offered his five barley loaves and two small fish. After Jesus gave thanks, His disciples distributed the food to the crowd. “After everyone was full, Jesus told His disciples, ‘Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.’” John 6:12 (NLT)
Leftovers are as much a part of Thanksgiving Day as stuffing is to turkey! What do we do with our literal or figurative leftovers? We can assume there were many leftovers after the first Thanksgiving because the feasting lasted three days. Without refrigeration, the leftovers must have been consumed and not wasted.
Jesus wastes nothing. No matter our circumstances or challenges remain thankful because the Bible tells us God works all things out together for good. (Romans 8:28) He knows our hearts. He knows our challenges. He knows what we have done and left undone. He loves us and will use our setbacks to His glory. Trust Him, and remain steadfast!
As we repurpose our leftover turkey into turkey sandwiches, let’s reflect on the many blessings received from a loving Father. Can we make Thanksgiving Day every day? Can we express gratitude that “The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfulness, His mercies begin afresh each morning!” Lamentations 3:22,23 (NLT)
God will take our “leftover” problems and brokenness of today and repurpose them into a beautiful testimony. He initiates a lovely exchange: a crown of beauty for ashes; the oil of joy instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. (Isiah 61:3)