The Thanksgiving Feast

photo(59)I’ve been rolling a Thanksgiving post around in my mind the past few days, and I happened upon one I wrote for Credenda in 2009. So why start over? Here it is.

Thanksgiving is a mysterious American feast day, buried in the month of November, on a Thursday, of all things. It requires several simple things of its celebrants: a turkey, some trimmings (called side dishes), and several kinds of pie, preferably using pumpkin, pecans, or apples. (And don’t forget the cranberries.)
At a certain moment in the late fall each year, the grocery store workers dutifully lay out the ingredients for the pies and the side dishes, and the butchers offer turkeys, fresh or frozen. Other shopkeepers provide tools for preparing the required dishes: meat thermometers, basting bulbs, measuring cups, and gravy ladles. Some sell dishes and platters decorated with turkeys, pumpkins, or leaves, all for the splendor of the Thanksgiving table.
The American citizens file in to the vast grocery stores, searching for the required elements for the feast, and they transport these ingredients home in paper or plastic bags, to be stored until the day of many preparations.
Some of the side dishes, like cornbread stuffing or marshmallow topped sweet potatoes, are only prepared and eaten once a year, at the Thanksgiving Feast. But each holds a treasured spot on the Thanksgiving table, and some even have their own serving dish just for the annual occasion. (Don’t forget Grandma’s silver gravy boat.)
The word thanksgiving means an expression of gratitude, particularly to God, for His many kindnesses shown to us creatures throughout the year. Those people who first came to this inhospitable land of ours found reason enough to give thanks, and they did. We call their celebration the First Thanksgiving, and we follow in their path, setting aside a day each year to eat traditional Thanksgiving food, and render thanks to God for our lives, our families, our homes and His good provision for our health and comfort and peace. We remember Him as we sit down together and enjoy the feast.
Never mind the atheists who have no one to thank. But they still want to eat turkey and dressing and corn pudding, so the thankless ones call this day Turkey Day, for lack of any better idea. They gather their food and make preparations, sometimes spending more money on the bird and the side dishes and the pies and the wine. Their Turkey Day tables look much like the Thanksgiving Feast tables, both shining with crystal and candlelight. They eat their stuffing and mashed potatoes, but their praise goes to the dead turkey resting on the platter rather than to the Maker of heaven and earth. No wonder their feasting is so much weariness. They are like those described in Paul’s letter to the Romans (1:21): “although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
But the thankful ones make a feast around the table, delighting in their Maker and rejoicing in the abundance of His gifts of food and wine and faces, old and young, around the table. Thanksgiving belongs to the thankful ones, and the others press their faces to the window glass, wondering.
God loves for His people to rejoice. In Deuteronomy 28:45-48 the curses are pronounced over the people “because thou servedst not the LORD thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things.” In Deut. 14:22-29, a description of the kind of feast God has in mind is described. It sounds like something that makes our Thanksgiving Feast look pretty tame: “And thou shalt eat before the LORD thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always.” There’s more, so be sure to read what follows. God loves to attend the parties of His people. In fact He chooses the place and the menu. And when we feast thankfully before the Lord, we are learning to fear Him. That is not what normally comes to mind when we think of fearing God. What a kind God! How sweet it is to render Him thanks! So as you lift your glass and slice your turkey and slosh gravy on your mashed potatoes, know that this is how you are to fear the one true, kind, gracious, sovereign Maker of heaven and earth. And what a Happy Thanksgiving that is!

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3 thoughts on “The Thanksgiving Feast

  1. Was it Chesterton that said something about an observer of the earth would conclude our Creator was inordinately fond of beetles? That needs to be reworked into a quote about types of pies available to a cook and hungry (well, stuffed) crowd of pie cheerers.

  2. We do serve a kind a loving Father! Thank you for the reminder to grow in our thankfulness and fear of him. Blessings to you and all your family; you have been such a blessing to me and mine.

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