The holiday we now call “Thanksgiving” is rooted in the harvest celebration of the Plymouth Pilgrims in 1621. And their harvest celebration had excellent biblical precedent: At least three feasts in Israel included thanks for the blessings of the various harvests. The Feasts of Firstfruits (March-April), the Feast of Weeks/Pentecost (May-June), and the Feast of Tabernacles (September-October) all included thanks for various harvests during the agricultural year. Also, one of the specific offerings identified in Leviticus was the Peace Offering presented to God in the spirit of thanksgiving for His forgiveness (Leviticus 3:1-17).
In the New Testament, we find that Christ changed everything—including the giving of thanks. Since all of the ceremonial celebrations of Israel were fulfilled in the Messiah, there are no more official days of thanksgiving. Rather, we are told, “in everything give thanks” (I Thessalonians 5:18). In Christ, we have reason and opportunity to express our thanks to God for all things at all times.
Fortunately, the founding fathers of our nation recognized the importance of gratitude to our benevolent Creator. George Washington encouraged the celebration of “Thanksgiving” and Abraham Lincoln made it official in 1863: a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”
During this time when our nation gathers to give thanks, let us be mindful to give thanks IN everything – today and every day. Someone said, “God’s giving deserves our thanks-giving.” And to that we say, “Amen.”