Friday, November 20, 2009


So how will you spend Thanksgiving? Our family usually had a big meal with turkey and all the trimmings. We watched football and played games. We put some money in a pot which paid off every quarter of the football game to the one who had bought the right square that corresponded to the score at the end of that quarter. It mildly troubled my mother that we were betting and she thought her family which was comprised of a youth pastor, a senior pastor and assorted church officials had been raised better than that. Some of us went hunting in the morning; all of us went for walks. We ate a late night snack of turkey sandwiches and a second piece of pie and went to bed. On Friday, we hit the malls to shop or see a new holiday movie release. A church service was not in the picture although my sister would always have everyone share what they were thankful for and my father would lead in prayer. All in all, it was a satisfying way to spend a holiday.

I felt some guilt, perhaps due to my mother's influence, that our Thanksgiving celebration was too secular. Maybe an hour or so at church would have helped me get over it. Somehow we have the idea that in order to enjoy ourselves we should pay our dues and spend some time in church first. It is interesting to view our Thanksgiving celebrations in light of the first one. The Pilgrims who lived at Plymouth in 1620 were not big on holidays. The big three were the weekly Sabbath, the Day of Humiliation and Fasting and the Day of Thanksgiving and Praise. The two "Days" were floating holidays depending on the growing cycle. The Thanksgiving Day we call the First Thanksgiving was not an official holiday at all.

Edward Winslow, who was present, wrote, " our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men fowling... the four killed as much fowl as needed to serve our company almost a week. At which time our other recreations were exercising our arms (not in the sense of going to the gym but firing their weapons). Many of the Indians (90 Wampanoags joined 50 colonists in this time of feasting) along with their greatest, Massasoit, with whom we entertained and feasted for three days went out and killed five deer which they gave to our governor, and the captain, and others. And although it had not always been so plentiful as it was at that time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty."

In the Puritan worldveiw, Leland Ryken wrote, "all of life is God's. The Puritans lived simultaneously in two worlds - the invisible spiritual world and the physical world of earthly existence. For the Puritans, both worlds were equally real, and there was no cleavage of life into sacred and secular. All of life was sacred." (from Worldly Saints: The Puritans As They Really Were)

However you spend Thanksgiving, enjoy the day the Lord has given to you.

The Earth is the Lord's and Everything in it. Ps 24:1 and 1 Cor 10:26

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