(November 20, 2011) A Weekly Meditation of Pastor Chang
<Be Thankful: A Reflection over the Season of Thanksgiving>
November is a unique season. There are at least three very important reasons for us to love it. First of all, the weather is good, not too warm or too cold; furthermore, for us who live in the east side of the USA, this is one of the most beautiful seasons. Most of the leaves before falling down, change colors. Its beauty is so enjoyable, although it only last for a few weeks. Thirdly, this is a month of Thanksgiving.
The fourth Thursday of November is the national observed Thanksgiving Day in the USA. Originally this is a religious holiday to celebrate and remember the grace of God toward the new immigrants of this country. There is no country in the world which celebrates Thanksgiving Day as a national holiday as the USA and Canada do. The reason is simple: Those who came to settle in North America were very pious Christians from the United Kingdom at the first place. They called themselves, Puritans.
When they immigrated to this new land, it was not easy. They faced a lot of hardship. Yet they all experienced the grace of God. They celebrated thanksgiving to the Almighty God because they wanted to express their love and thanksgiving to Him. This was their first intention. They did not intentionally express their thanks to the local Indians nor did they thank to the local gods of the America.
This is a kind of natural way in Christian life, when Christians experience love of God from the nature or from other people will express gratitude and thanksgiving to God. It is a natural character of Christ Jesus. Christians know that the love of God is precious and free, it may last forever. No one can earn the love of God but only by God’s grace alone.
One of the earliest Thanksgivings in America was celebrated on December 4, 1619, when 39 English settlers arrived at Berkeley Plantation, on the James River near Charles City, Va. It was observed as a purely Christian worship and activities to give thanks to God.
The first New England Thanksgiving was celebrated less than one year after the Puritans arrived at the Plymouth in 1620. The first winter was very dreadful to this group of Christians. Near half of them were killed because of the cold weather and the unfamiliar environments. However, when the next summer came, new hope grew up. They had plenty of harvest of corns. Governor William Bradford decreed that a three-day feast be held. A Thanksgiving Day for the purpose of prayer as well as celebration was held on July 30, 1623.
President George Washington issued a proclamation naming November 26 a day of national thanksgiving in 1789. But almost every state had its own Thanksgiving celebration day. Then President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November to be “a day of thanksgiving and praise to our Beneficent Father God” in 1863. President Roosevelt tried to set the celebration of Thanksgiving one week earlier in 1939 in order to help the business by lengthening the shopping period before Christmas. Congress finally ruled that after 1941 the fourth Thursday of November would be observed as Thanksgiving Day and would be a legal federal holiday. It was good of changing it back in order to remove any commercial purpose away from this Thanksgiving celebration.
We as new immigrants today we need to be more thankful because we can settle here in the USA today it was because of the past three hundred years the earlier immigrants their hard works. Now we can enjoy the fruits of the good government system, freedom of religions and other benefits, it was because of the hard works of the earlier immigrants. Therefore, we need to work hard too in order to follow up the spirit of thanksgiving and continue to develop well in this wonderful nation for the glory of God.
If we as the living today to see the difference between “heaven” and “hell”, one can see that those who live in “heaven” are the people who are thankful always; and those who live in “hell” are the people who never express their thanksgiving and praises, especially to the living God as what the Psalmist says, “No one will praise God in hell.” (Ps. 6:5)
*“Witnesses of Life after Death” will continue on next Sunday.