(I Thessalonians 5:16-18)
By Rev. Dr. Sergio E. Arevalo, Jr.
November 27, (Thu) 2014, Thanksgiving Day
A police officer wanted to catch more motorists, so he tried to find a perfect hiding place to watch for speeding motorists, and he got one which was really strategic. For several days, he caught some motorists, but one day, the officer was amazed when everyone was under the speed limit, so he investigated and found the clue.
A 10 years old boy was standing on the side of the road with a huge hand painted sign which said “Radar Trap Ahead.”
A little more investigative work led the officer to the boy’s accomplice: another boy about 100 yards beyond the radar trap with a sign reading “THANK YOU TIPS” and a bucket at his feet full of coins (http://academictips.org/blogs/funny-short-stories/ ).
Today we are celebrating the Thanksgiving Day in America.
As usual we celebrate it with family feast, and in most tables we have turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, candied yams, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. Oh I am now hungry! J
However, pupils at Lutheran International School have an appeal to us, and they did it through their drawings:
Smithsonianmag.com reports that “if one were to create a historically accurate feast, consisting of only those foods that historians are certain were served at the so-called ‘first Thanksgiving,’ there would be slimmer pickings. ‘Wildfowl was there. Corn, in grain form for bread or for porridge, was there. Venison was there,’ says Kathleen Wall. ‘These are absolutes.’”
The history magazine argues that there are two primary sources—the only surviving documents that reference the meal—confirm that these staples were part of the harvest celebration shared by the Pilgrims and Wampanoag at Plymouth Colony in 1621 (smithsonianmag.com) .
Let’s leave the food issue, let’s proceed to the main topic.
Thanksgiving, or Thanksgiving Day, is a holiday celebrated in the United States on the 4th Thursday in November. It has been celebrated as Federal holiday every year since 1863, when, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwells in the Heavens”, to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November.
Thanksgiving was also celebrated nationally in 1789, after a proclamation by George Washington. The event that Americans commonly call the “First Thanksgiving” was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World in 1621.
This feast lasted three days, and it was attended by 90 Native Americans (as accounted by attendee Edward Winslow), and 53 Pilgrims. The New England colonists were accustomed to regularly celebrating “thanksgivings”—days of prayer thanking God for blessings such as military victory or the end of a drought (Wikepedia.com).
Thanksgiving Day is one of the noble days that our government made into law, and practice for long time. People have no reasons now why we could not remember to thank the Lord.
The Apostle Paul encouraged the Thessalonians to be glad and joyous always. Being happy internally is a proof of our being in Christ. Feeling satisfied in life and faith will give us eternal gladness. We are happy when we know that even in our deepest problems and crises in life, God is there to help and guide us.
An old woman who was satisfied in her life, traveling in the mountains found a precious gold in a river. The next day she met another traveler who was hungry, and the old woman opened her backpack to share her food. The hungry traveler saw the precious gold, and asked the woman to give it to him. She did it without hesitation.
The man left, rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime. But a few days later he came back to return the fortune to the old woman.
“I’ve been thinking,” he said, “I know how valuable the stone is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious. Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me the stone” (story-coach.com/giving-thanks).
Prayer without ceasing does not mean we don’t do anything but pray. It means that whatever we do we do them in the spirit of prayer. We should always communicate to God whatever we do. We should consult God whatever we plan and decide. We thank the Lord when our actions and decisions are good.
III. Be Thankful: “In Everything Give Thanks” (1Thess 5:18).
David Mathis says “Part of what the first man and woman were created to do is honor God by being thankful. And part of what we exist to do is honor God by being thankful—and thus the numerous biblical commands enjoining gratitude. Humanity was created to appreciate God. But as we’ve already seen from Romans 1, ingratitude wasn’t far away” (churchleaders.com ).
Indeed, God created us human beings to be his object of love, and we need to show our love to God by being thankful to God. When we receive a gift, a good opportunity, a blessing, a wonderful experience, or even bad happenings, we should thank God for everything.
To thank God for blessings that we receive is no quarrel, we use our senses to express our love to God, and even to people who use by God as channel of blessings. However, to thank God even in our bad experiences is questionable to some people.
The Apostle Paul says, in everything give thanks. “Thanks” in Greek is εὐχαριστέω, eucharisteō, which means “to be grateful, feel thankful” (Thayer’s Greek). The Eucharist (with capital E) comes from that Greek word “eucharisteō.” Thus, the phrase may be said, “in everything give eucharist.” Why do we need to give eucharist? Paul adds, “For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” God wants us to thank him for all the things that he has granted to us.
In our Gospel reading today (Luke 17:11-18), there were 10 lepers who begged for mercy and healing from Jesus Christ. Jesus healed them as they were showing themselves to the rabbis. When one of them realized that he was healed he returned to Jesus, fell to the feet of Jesus, praising God and thanking Jesus for what he had done.
Jesus asked, “Ten men were made clean, weren’t they? Where are the other nine? Except for this Samaritan were any of them found to return and give praise to God?”
Why did only one cleansed leper return to thank Jesus? Charles L. Brown says the following are nine suggested reasons why the nine did not return:
(1) One waited to see if the cure was real.
(2) One waited to see if it would last.
(3) One said he would see Jesus later.
(4) One decided that he had never had leprosy.
(5) One said he would have gotten well anyway.
(6) One gave the glory to the priests.
(7) One said, “O, well, Jesus didn’t really do anything.”
(8) One said, “Any rabbi could have done it.”
(9) One said, “I was already much improved” (Content The Newsletter, June, 1990, p. 3.).
Out of ten people, only one had the courage to return to Jesus for thanksgiving! Jesus knew that we need to thank God and make known his actions among nations, as told by Isaiah, “Give thanks to the LORD; call on his name. Make known his actions among the nations. Proclaim that his name is exalted. Sing praises to the LORD, because he has acted gloriously, being made known in all the world. Shout aloud, and sing for joy, you who live in Zion, because great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel” (Isa.12:4-6).