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Saturday, April 20, 2024 at 4:26 AM
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Experiencing Thanksgiving

Ron Braley Guest Columnist

This column represents the thoughts and opinions of Dr. Ron Braley. This is NOT the opinion of the Taylor Press.

Family. Turkey.

Stuffing. Gravy. Pies.

Tums. There are so many things to be thankful for, and the Thanksgiving holiday is here. Expressing thanksgiving is good for our relationships and mental health.

And it’s what God desires: “… in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

(1 Thessalonians 5:18). Although people have always been thankful, the formal holiday stems from the gratitude early Spanish and European settlers showed to the indigenous American Indians for feeding them and acclimating them to a new land and new ways.

It’s hard to say precisely when the first Thanksgiving occurred. One account pinpoints the autumn of 1621 when “at least 90 Wampanoag joined 52 English people at what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts, to mark a successful harvest.”

Another group in Berkeley Hundred (now Virginia) celebrated their arrival to the new world as early as 1619. Supposedly, the meal consisted of scant oysters and ham. But they were thankful even without abundant turkey, ham, pie, cranberry sauce, etc.

We find another, even earlier, Thanksgiving celebration in 1565 with the Spanish settlers and the Seloy tribe. But who established the official Thanksgiving holiday, and when?

The first Federal Congress passed a Thanksgiving holiday resolution Sept. 28, 1789. Consequently, President George Washington proclaimed Thursday, Nov. 26, 1789, a day for public Thanksgiving. But President Abraham Lincoln made the holiday a regular, recurring event (the last Thursday in November) in 1863. Of course, commerce prevailed, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving to the second-to-last Thursday of November in 1939 to lengthen the Christmas shopping season.

Regardless, we must always give thanks for everything that is benevolent and brings innocent joy, including each other, God’s provision and mercy, our jobs, and every breath we take. As a community, we must express thanksgiving for those who protect us. Decision-makers who govern deserve our thanks, too. And in our gratitude, we must show love and be thankful when we receive it.

This is worship, and it brings healing and expresses our love for God while healing our relationship with Him.

Worship comprises ‘ worth’ and ‘ship.’ It means to give worth to what we value. We express worthiness to God by acknowledging His protection, provision, salvation, comfort, grace and mercy.

How should we do this? By showing (not just telling) gratitude.

In other words, being thankful through our actions. Purity. Prayer.

Loving others as God loves. Sacrifice. Note how worship is full of action, not words or music.

Summary

Have a blessed Thanksgiving Holiday. Be thankful and enjoy the festivities. But don’t stop there: be grateful every day through your actions. In your gratitude for what you have received from God, give the same to others. Next, let’s put the ‘Be’ back into ‘Be-Attitudes’ as we learn about righteous character and the benefits received through God’s favor.

Until then, give more than you receive.

Questions or comments? Email [email protected].

Blessings and peace, Dr. Ron Braley, MDiv, DMin.


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