Grace, mercy and peace from God, our Father, and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Thanksgiving was never really any particular day until the mid-1800’s. It was celebrated, yes but the tradition behind Thanksgiving was something slightly different than turkeys, and even the harvest, and it definitely wasn’t the mad rush associated with Black Friday. We all think of Pilgrims and Puritans, of Plymouth Rock, of Squanto and his band of Native Americans, all of which we’ve come to associate with the Third Thursday in November. Before any and all of that, and after it, the tradition was to proclaim a day of thanksgiving for the blessings of God, whatever they might have been, whenever it might have fallen.
A part of that was perhaps that at least some of the Puritans wanted to eliminate all church holidays, and replace them with proclamations of God’s grace and blessings, with celebrations in response to the manifestation of divine providence in their lives. It’s perhaps why, in French, the day is actually called “Jour de l’Action de grâce” or “A Day of the Action of Grace.” Though that might be a little on the extreme side for the majority of us, even if, at times, it seems as if the world has gone and eliminated the religion and faith from the Church Holidays, turning Christmas into a celebration of winter or Easter into Fall Festival, the idea itself is good.
You see we live in a perpetual state of grace, a perpetual state of the blessings of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 9:8) This isn’t just one day or one time of the year. As St. Paul reminds us after all, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) Yes, this is sometimes hard to see, the difficulties and the challenges of your life, the depression, the despair, the hardship, the pain, the heartbreak and the sorrow can overshadow you, it can make it hard to see the light through the darkness that just seems to be everywhere. Still, even during those times, God is with you, He is always with you, (Matthew 28:20) never leaving you, never abandoning you, never forsaking you. (Joshua 1:5) Every day is a day of action in the grace of your God, every day is a day in the love of your blessed Savior Jesus Christ.
Thanksgiving isn’t just a North American holiday, it’s not just the third Thursday in November, the second Monday in October in Canada. It should be every day you look and see the bountiful blessings of the Lord. It is every day you are given, remembering that “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24) Like those proclamations once given, your life should be a daily testimony of thanksgiving to the Lord your God, to your Heavenly Father who loves you, who cares for you and protects you, who’s blessed Spirit draws you into His wondrous and amazing grace.
Perhaps, at times, it’s hard for you to see the rich blessings of God in your life. It’s easy, after all, for the world to overwhelm you, to give you the impression that it has given you more than you can handle or more than you can deal with. Life can be a struggle at times. These are the times though when you need to cling all the tighter to the grace of God and the hope that He has for you. As Peter reminds you, there are going to be hardships in this life, the temptations of the Devil, the burdens he can heap on you, the despair he may try to drag you down to, yet you are never alone. When you stand firm and steadfast in your faith you stand with the body of believers who are there to strength and edify you in the Lord our God, you are bound by the Spirit of God, through Christ to your Heavenly Father, and the body of saints. Here is where you are strengthened and perfected in the multitude of grace given unto you. (1 Peter 5:8-11) Here is where God’s grace is sufficient for you even in weakness and hardship, in sorrow and suffering, giving you the power and the courage to meet every challenge that is put up against you. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10) We just need to hold fast to that glorious truth.
Run the race dear brothers and sisters. Run the race that is set before you and fight the good fight of faith, but take a moment of rest along the way. Take a moment to stop, and to sincerely study your challenges and your difficulties, your stresses and your pain. Take a moment to look around you and see the presence of the Lord, your God in your life. He is there guiding you and directing you. He is there with the divine hand of providence showing you the path and the way, lighting the road in front of you, lifting you when you stumble, picking you up when you fall, carrying you when you are too tired to move and healing you from the wounds that it all cause, strengthening and preserving you in a perpetual and abundant state of grace. Once you see this don’t wait once a year to declare your thanks to the Lord, don’t wait until the Third Thursday or the Second Monday, or any other observance. Make every day that celebration of Thanksgiving, make every day a testimony to the love, grace and mercy given to you.
Through God, your Father, you are made a glorious child of righteousness, saved by the redeeming power of His Son, Christ Jesus. Through God, your Father, the Holy Spirit is there to comfort you and to give you peace. Even when the world is hard and our days are tough, even when it seems like there are struggles around us there is so much to give thanks for, a bountiful and abundant harvest of the spirit and the soul ready to be reaped, to edify and nourish you in the hope, love and charity of a faith that gives so freely and asks so little of you. In this steadfast blessing of your God live sanctified in His love as He exalts you above measure. Remember all that you have to be thankful for. Even when life is at its most trying it’s more than you could even imagine as He draws you nearer to Him each and every day of your life.
Now may the peace of the Lord, that peace that transcends all human understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus even unto life everlasting, Amen.