Friday, November 9, 2012

The Act of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is upon us.We have started planning our menus, shopping, and the Black Friday adds are being published. Devoting a holiday to the celebration of all that we have to be thankful for is an American tradition. It's wonderful to take time away from work to be with our loved ones and enjoy each other's company. And there's the food. Who doesn't love the food? Juicy roasted turkey, creamy mounds of mashed potatoes, steaming heaps of green bean casserole- my mouth is watering just thinking about it! I love Thanksgiving!

We are all familiar with the traditional American celebration of Thanksgiving. Most of us know the puritan origins as well. We remember the stories we learned in elementary school about Squanto and the Pilgrims. What we may not realize is that when Thanksgiving was proclaimed a national holiday during the height of the
Civil War in 1863 by president Lincoln, his intention was to entreat all Americans to ask God to “commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife..." It sounds to me, like President Lincoln wanted them to take that day and really reflect on how incredibly blessed they were and how much they had to be thankful for during those considerably trying times, and to come to God in prayer for those who were not as fortunate. This is still absolutely relevant, today.

I think we need to focus more on just what it looks like to be thankful. President Lincoln wanted us to "ask God", and prayer is definitely powerful and effective (James 5:16). I'm thinking of another scripture, though.
     If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? (James 2:16)
We can pray to God and ask Him to help those in need. The Bible is full of the promise that He listens. The Bible is also full of the assurance that we can and should help.
     Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. (1 Peter 4:10)
In fact, Ephesians 4:28 tells us that the reason we should work is so that we "...may have something to share with those in need."
I am really looking forward to celebrating all aspects of Thanksgiving this year, but I have been convicted about the true purpose of the holiday and just what it means to show my thanks. I believe it is best summed up by 2 Corinthians 9:12:
     This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.

Here are some of my favorite local serving opportunities:

Here is a great way to find your own volunteering match:

Here us a quiz to help you in determining what you spiritual gifts are: