Thanksgiving: Thanks Be To Whom?!?
While browsing Google Blog Search this morning for the term "Thanksgiving," I stumbled across an incredible example of our secular culture's mere tolerance of what it sees as an unnecessarily "religious" holiday. The following entry was found on the blog, "Rossputin.com: Rational Thinking About Our World." I cannot recommend this blog, but I do wish to give proper credit for the material.
"I don't want to sound like the Thanksgiving equivalent of the Grinch, but I've always had a hard time getting into this particular holiday.Questions that immediately arise in my mind are:
I suppose the feeling is made even stronger by the tendency of a fair number of Christians to go to church on Thanksgiving, giving it an even more religious overtone. (Maybe it is just a convenient time to go to church in an otherwise busy schedule.)
There's some interesting info at Wikipedia about Thanksgiving, [most] typical is this quote of Sarah Josepha Hale, 1863:It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.Now, not all of her quote is as religious as that sentence, but still religion permeates the modern discussion of a holiday which I would prefer to be more American and less sectarian.
I appreciate the day off, and of course I always like opportunities for the family and friends to get together. Yet somehow Thanksgiving continues to feel strangely foreign to this American.
Whatever the holiday means to you, I wish you and yours a great Thanksgiving.
- What does the author mean, "I would prefer [Thanksgiving] to be more American?" It seems that the author equates the term "American" with secularism and tolerance (i.e. "less sectarian"), an unfortunate glimpse into the mindset of our nation.
- How widespread are these views? The author states, "somehow Thanksgiving continues to feel strangely foreign to this American." But how many "Americans" feel the same way?
- How much longer can we expect an increasingly secular society to continue to celebrate an intrinsically Christian holiday?
Inherent in the idea of "thankfulness" or "gratitude" is a readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
In Psalm 116:12-13 the author asks, "What can I give back to God for all the blessings He's poured out on me? I will lift high the cup of salvation -- a toast to God! I will pray in the name of God."
And that's what Thanksgiving is all about. It is "a toast to God" to thank Him for life and breath, for family and friends, for growth and prosperity, for His faithfulness and mercy, for the Cross and our Salvation, and for His promise never to leave us or forsake us.
Notice that in all of these things we are unable to repay Him. That's why the Psalmist cries, "What can I give back to God for all the blessings He's poured out on me?" Praise is the only thing we can offer back to God for His blessings.
I understand why non-Christians feel uncomfortable celebrating this Christian holiday. They might "feel" thankful, but thanks be to whom?!?
If thankfulness includes a readiness to somehow repay kindness or blessing, the very real questions become, "To whom are they repaying?" and "Isn't it inconsistent to feel thankful on Thanksgiving when you have rejected the existence of the very person who's blessed you?"