November 25, 1999
|Deuteronomy 8:7-18||Enjoy abundance--remember God||126: Sing Praise to God Who Reigns
631: O Food to Pilgrims Given
|Psalm 65||Our bountiful God||92: For the Beauty of the Earth
131: We Gather Together
|Luke 17:11-19||Gratitude for blessings||95: Praise God, from Whom All Blessings
337: Only Trust Him
|2 Corinthians 9:6-15||Harvesting what is sown||469: Jesus Is All the World to Me
694: Come, Ye Thankful People, Come
I live in the United States of America. The time has come again to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday here. As children, we are taught the story of "the first Thanksgiving." We are told about the Pilgrim settlers who came together with their Native American neighbors. They shared with each other the bountiful harvests that they had reaped. Tables were filled with favorite dishes from the "new world" (North America) and the "old world" (Europe). It is a heart warming story, and it provides the plot for some really good plays at elementary schools across the country.
Sometimes it is easy to forget what holidays really mean, or even take them for granted. It is easy to forget that the word "holiday" itself is simply a contraction of the words "Holy Days." When we acknowledge that holidays are Holy, the Thanksgiving Holy Day can become more special to us as Christians.
It is also easy to view holidays only as they affect ourselves. This week's featured hymn can be a lesson in broadening our appreciation for holidays. This hymn, which Americans often associate with their own celebration of Thanksgiving and sing in their Thanksgiving plays, was a Prayer of Thanksgiving brought to the "New World" in the early 1600s by Dutch settlers--not by Pilgrims. It was translated to English centuries later by Theodore Baker (1851-1934). The music was also added later, and again it came from outside of the Pilgrim community. It is based on a Netherlands folk hymn.
Thanksgiving is not simply an American holiday. Rather, the American holiday is simply one way to recognize a Holy Day that is acknowledged in the Dutch Prayer of Thanksgiving--a prayer that existed before any Pilgrims celebrated with the Indians. Before that, Hebrew prayers of thanksgiving appeared in the Psalms and other places in the Bible. Indeed, the sacrifices offered to God by Cain and Able in Genesis are proof that worshiping and giving thanks to God extends all the way back to the very first family in the scriptures.
Read the words of this week's featured hymn prayerfully, remembering the blessings that we enjoy every day as people of God in all of the world and in all generations.
|1. We gather together to ask the Lord's blessing;
he chastens and hastens his will to make known.
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.
Sing praises to his name, he forgets not his own.
|2. Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
ordaining, maintaining his kingdom divine;
so from the beginning the fight we were winning;
thou, Lord, wast at our side, all glory be thine!
|3. We all do extol thee, thou leader triumphant,
and pray that thou still our defender wilt be.
Let thy congregation escape tribulation;
thy name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!
May you give thanks every day, and may you gather on your Holy Day of Thanksgiving.
God bless you--
|Passages suggested are from The Revised Common Lectionary: Consultation on Common Texts (Abingdon Press, 1992) copyright © by the Consultation on Common Texts (CCT), P.O. Box 340003, Room 381, Nashville TN 37203-0003. Reprinted with permission of CCT.|