Canada’s yearly day of Thanksgiving is again upon us. Historically the holiday was only formalized in 1957, declared to be celebrated on the second Monday of October. In the 1920’s it was temporarily celebrated in connection with Remembrance Day in November, expressing thankfulness for peace. Its origins go back as far as early European explorers who probed the northern part of our continent, thankful for safety during the risks they took. Later during the American revolution, United Empire Loyalists brought us the customs of pumpkins, squash, and turkey.
Biblically there is no command for Christians to celebrate a religious feast of thanksgiving, so we don’t practice it as a church. But nobody can deny it is a good thing to do privately and as families. It’s interesting to read of the great Jewish feasts of the Old Testament, such as Passover, Pentecost and the Feast of Booths (harvest) – all times of national thanksgiving for God’s blessings. These Old Testament practices don’t direct us to do the same in the New Testament age, but they teach us the importance of being thankful.
Paul urged the Colossian Christians to be “overflowing with gratitude.” (Col.2:7). When we sing together we are “singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (3:16). Even prayer is to be offered “with an attitude of thanksgiving.” (4:2). These are things we do every Sunday, every week, and some of them every day. Thankfulness keeps us connected with God’s goodness, and reminds us that everything depends upon Him. Do that this weekend, and every day afterward.
– Tim Johnson
Ten years ago on Labour Day weekend, the South Edmonton, Alberta, Church of Christ had its first Sunday assembly. After months of planning, and an encouraging send-off by the north-side congregation, all went smoothly. I was their preacher and it was a privilege to give the first sermon there. We carried many supplies into the rented hall, sat on borrowed chairs, used a troublesome PA system, and had Sunday school classes in hallways and corners. But everyone was grateful for what we had. It was a day of great joy and thankfulness.
Christians are to be known as a people full of thankfulness. We’re told in Ephesians 5:20 to be “always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father.” We are to express it to God through Jesus, for it was Jesus who died and rose for us and gave us lives of hope.
There are days when things seem very dark and life has little joy. Stresses can multiply and make us feel like we are carrying an impossible load. Some days seem to be full of things broken, appliances that refuse to work, and unexpected bills that make us throw up our hands in frustration. How can we be grateful “for all things” on days like that?! We can if we remember all the things that aren’t broken and continue to work well. We can be thankful when we think of the promises of God, that He will “never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you” (Heb.13:5).
Nobody has life perfect. Every single human being alive today (7.4 billion of us) has some troubles. When we see the good things God does for us, we can forego grumbling and “give thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God.”
– Tim Johnson