Tuesday, November 22, 2011


We are headed full-steam into the holiday season, whether we are ready for it or not! Usually, I am bothered by the encroachment of Christmas upon the observance of Thanksgiving, but this year, I’m a little calmer about it. I am not only open to hearing Christmas music, seeing the Christmas decorations in the stores, and Christmas commercials on television, I am embracing it!

However, before I start singing Silent Night, too soon, let’s be sure to enjoy Thanksgiving and what it means. If you asked a group of people what the day means to them, they might give you responses like, “It’s about thanking God for all we have.” Or “It’s about family and friends.” Or, “It’s all about the food!”

While most of us are aware of the fact that the day is set aside to give thanks for all that God has blessed us with, for many, the food is the highlight! I remember the first Thanksgiving that my wife and I shared in our first house. We had lived in an apartment for a couple of years, before purchasing a home that would accommodate a Thanksgiving celebration.

That year, she wanted to cook all of the food, and host Thanksgiving. We knew it would be a little crammed, but we were sure we could pull it off. As she prepared the meal, I remember her calling her mother several times to ask how to make this or that. My wife cooked the food, but with a little instruction from her mother.

I recently read a funny story that reminded me of that Thanksgiving. In the tale, a couple who was celebrating their first Thanksgiving together had planned on having ham. The young wife sent her husband to the store to pick one up. Upon his return, she asked why he didn’t have the butcher cut the ends off the ham. He asked why he should have. She told him that her mother always did it that way.

The young man assumed this was some family secret for cooking ham, so he cut the ends off for her. It happened that the wife’s mother was visiting for Thanksgiving. The young man couldn’t help himself, so he asked his mother-in-law why she cut the ends off of her ham. She replied that she didn’t know, but that her mother always did it.

The young man was on a mission at this point. He called his wife’s grandmother, and asked her why she cut the ends off her ham. She said, “Oh, I always cut the ends off my ham, because my roaster was too small back then to cook a ham in one piece.”

We like to follow traditions. Traditions make us comfortable and secure. However, there are many “traditions” that we follow and have no idea why. I was visiting a church some time back that had an old tin can underneath the altar. When I asked what that was for, no one knew, but quickly told me not to move it, because it had “always been there.”

Christ never called us to follow “religion” blindly. He urges us to know why we believe what we believe. When we are asked why we believe in Christ, we cannot reply, “Because I always have,” or “That’s what I was taught.” Jesus wants to be so much more to us than just a “belief” or a bit of knowledge. He desires a relationship with us.
In fact, He so desires a relationship with us, that He laid His life down to provide a way to make us worthy of that relationship. Then, He chooses to bless us with all of the goodness that we have in our lives. Because He lives, we live.

This Thanksgiving, observe the “traditions’ and enjoy the time with friends and family. Do not, however, forget to give thanks to the One who loves you. Give Him more than just a short prayer over your feast. Give Him your life and friendship. Get to know Him and stop going through the motions of following blindly.

From my family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving!!

Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations. (Psalm 100)

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