Thanks for Nothing
“What are you thankful for?” This is the proverbial question that we are asked every year around this time. As we sit at a table with a nice turkey dinner with all of our favorite sides, we go around the table and express our thanks for the various blessings that we have received. “I am thankful for my parents,” or “I am thankful for my friends,” or “I am thankful for my job.” Then we dig into the food until our bellies are about to explode and take a nap while the football game is on TV.
Thanksgiving was not originally a holiday on the Christian calendar. In fact, it was not oﬃcially recognized in the United States until Abraham Lincoln made it a national holiday in 1863. While there is debate on the exact origin of the Thanksgiving holiday, there is wide agreement that it was meant to be a day set aside not to express our thanks for the blessings we have received; rather, it was to express our thanks to the One who gives those blessings.
Somewhere along the way, amidst the commercialization of this and pretty much every other holiday on both Christian and secular calendars, we have lost what it truly means to give thanks to God. How frequently have we expressed our thanks for nothing and to no one? It is not enough to be grateful for what we have. We must instead recognize the goodness of the One who has given those things.
Such true thanksgiving can be dated as far back as the book of Exodus. When God gave Moses the law on Mt. Sinai, He gave him more than a list of do’s and don'ts; He gave them feasts and festivals to celebrate His past and ongoing blessings. The Jews celebrated Passover in remembrance and thanks of what God had done in bringing them out of Egypt. They celebrated the Feast of Firstfruits and the Feast of Ingathering in grateful worship of the God who had provided them crops and the land on which they grew.
We are not bound to the law of the Old Testament since Jesus Christ has fulﬁlled it, but should that stop us from thanking our Father and Provider for who He is and what He has done?
Our God has blessed us individually and corporately in so many ways, yet how often do we take the time to thank Him? In Luke 17:11-19, Jesus cleansed ten lepers, yet only one came back to thank Him for His healing. This is more indicative of the human condition than we would like to admit. How many times have we unknowingly found ourselves among the nine instead of the one?
While we must give thanks to the Lord year round for His goodness and grace, we have a blessed opportunity to gather with the assembly of believers, even our families, to thank Him in extravagant fashion. How can we do this? I would encourage us all to replace our speeches of thanksgiving around the table with a time of Holy Communion. What more ﬁtting way is there to thank God than to remember and partake in the death and resurrection of His son by the bread and the cup?
Our Father in heaven is good, and He has blessed us far beyond our imagining. Let us then thank Him in a ritual that was instituted by Christ Himself. Let us give thanks for true blessing and for life eternal.
Your Servant in Christ,