-Patrick Hall, Stewardship Co-Chair 2015
As Thanksgiving approaches, I think about the many wonderful meals and family dinners I used to attend. I remember how my mother and her home were the center of our family as a whole. The huge turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole, and desserts of every kind were so good. It was a time to get together. I got to see people who I only saw on the holidays. It was the typical thanksgiving that most families experience for the bountiful harvest that we have received, and the good things that God has given us throughout the year. The pilgrim thanksgiving, however, had its origins from not so much a bounty but a deficit of food. In the summer of 1621, the pilgrims had a day of fasting and prayer for a good harvest. They were concerned with survival, in contrast to the holiday we celebrate today. There are some historians who doubt whether the thanksgiving dinner actually occurred because the pilgrims were so religious. It was more likely about prayer and thanksgiving to God than about food. What strikes me as great is how the origins of this holiday were centered on prayer. I started to think about a bible verse I really like. “O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever.” (KJV) There are two concepts that stand out to me. First, his mercy endureth forever. No matter what happens, where I am in life or what sin I commit God’s mercy for me is forever. This is the greatest gift God has given us. But there is a second part, “give thanks unto the Lord.” It is a simply statement but it has huge implications. It is our response to God’s gifts. I am not really sure I can give back what he has given to me. At times, I am not sure I even know where to begin. I have to start with the gifts that I have: my talents, my time, and tithing. I pray about it. I have to analyze what I have. I then give as much as I can give. In my decision, I have to commune with God. It really is a very hard decision to make, but I have to let God guide me so that my gifts to him can be his gifts to others. My response can be a gift to others who don’t have the same blessings that I do. I struggle a lot about what I should do through prayer. I have come to the conclusion that we are all God’s gifts. We are part of this great circle of giving and receiving. As you sit around the Thanksgiving table this holiday. Focus on your response to God’s gifts. Focus on what blessings you have to give, and give them plentifully. Think about how the church can help you to be a gift. Center your holiday on God. The food and the company may be wonderful, but remember that God is there with you, and will be forever. Honor the true meaning of Thanksgiving that the European Settlers started. A day that includes Thanksgiving, prayer and giving. That is the response that I hope you will give.