Last Sunday I taught Psalm 103. As I got ready to write a Thanksgiving blog, the first two verses of that Psalm kept coming to my mind:
Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
If you want to bring Jesus to your table this year, remember his benefits and you will celebrate a genuine Thanksgiving.
The Pilgrims wanted to celebrate their harvest. God had blessed their crops, their hunters, and their health. Their storehouses were full, and they knew their families could survive the cold winter months, unlike the winter before. They wanted to offer their deepest praise to God, so they held a feast of celebration.
I wish there were a video of that first Thanksgiving. I’m sure the kids were running around, the women were loading the tables with their finest dishes, and the men were enjoying the fact that their long hours in the fields had provided for their families. When those men and women bowed their heads to praise God, their thoughts and words were authored with joy from their inmost being.
The men and women knew they had worked hard, but they also knew that only God could transform seeds into a crop. Only God could send the rain, enrich the soil, and strengthen the sun. Only God could create animals to be food for their families. So, they praised the Lord’s holy name from a deep place of gratitude as they remembered his benefits.
Somewhere along the line, the culture said that religion wasn’t an appropriate topic for the Thanksgiving table. For the Pilgrims, religion was the reason for the table. They wanted to remember all that God had done and offer him their deepest praise. Maybe we should remember those Pilgrims this year and celebrate Thanksgiving as they did.
What would Jesus say if he led the prayer? How would Jesus praise his Father from his inmost soul? What would Jesus remember that would cause his praise to overflow? If the conversation went down a contentious road, would Jesus argue a point, or would he just tell a story that made the point? Would Jesus make the meal about the food, or would it be about the people at the table? If there were only one piece of pie left, would Jesus take it, or would he give it away? Would Jesus take the best seat at the table, or would he serve until just one seat remained? What will your Thanksgiving look like if you bring Jesus to the table?
Take some time, on this day before Thanksgiving, to remember the Lord’s benefits in your life and in the lives of your family. Picture what Jesus would say and do if he had a seat at your table. Then, invite Jesus to take a seat with you this year. Ask his Holy Spirit to author your thoughts, your spirit, your actions, and your praise. Jesus would be honored to have a place at your celebration.
It’s Thanksgiving. Remember, and then give thanks for all the Lord’s benefits. Praise God from your inmost being. Then, enjoy the food, the family, the friends, and, mostly, enjoy the faith that founded the feast. Bring Jesus to the table and enjoy his many benefits.
I wish you a blessed Thanksgiving—I wish you the presence of Jesus at your table.