“I’m thankful for the presents that I’m gonna get for Christmas,” he said, smiling.
I frowned and began a lecture in my head, “Let’s take one holiday at a time, shall we? How rude to rush ahead to your Christmas list when you haven’t taken time to properly remember what you’ve been given.” Sheesh… kids these days.
Thanksgiving was meant to be a day of giving thanks for the blessings and harvest from the preceding year. After sufficient provisions have been measured and stored away for the winter, the Pilgrims celebrated and gave thanks.
In the world’s economy, that makes perfect sense.
And that boy’s answer sounds so wrong…
But the longer I think about it, the more I’m starting to like it.
Now, of course it’s good (and Biblical) to express thanks for what I’ve been given, but shouldn’t my thankfulness extend beyond what I’ve experienced? Shouldn’t it also boldly reach forward to what I’ve been promised?
That student is thankful today, expecting joy from unopened gifts, because he’s remembering the past.
He’s the worker who is hosting a feast in the spring because the seeds are in the ground… and because he’s learned how good the Farmer is.
Isn’t that the essence of gospel-centered living?
Doesn’t that make perfect sense with God’s upside-down economy?
I often play the Pilgrim; measuring, counting, and weighing my resources before saying thanks. I make sure there is plenty of hay in the barn… before I feel I can rest; before I can loosen my bonnet and celebrate.
But the gospel tells me I can be grateful amidst empty barns and even when resources don’t measure up. The gospel allows me to have the faith of a child; trusting in God’s plan for my past, present, AND future.
I’ve always wondered… the year after that first post-harvest feast, what if the Pilgrims measured their supplies only to find that there wasn’t enough to last the winter? I’m sure they prayed for God’s help, but could they bring themselves to offer thanks? Instead of feasting, did they spend the week worrying or trying to scrounge up more nuts and berries to make up the difference? Was their Thanksgiving party tentatively scheduled each year?
Again, in the world’s economy, that all seems sensible and wise. And honestly, it’s how I live.
I don’t have to play the Pilgrim.
Thanksgiving shouldn’t be all about gifts already given…
It’s a mom in her worn-out kitchen with her broken family, giving thanks to the God who will eventually make all things new and whole.
It’s a virgin, with the cries of her baby echoing through an empty barn, rejoicing in a mysterious plan to save the world.
It’s the King of Kings, in the form of a Jewish man, about to face the ultimate emptiness, breaking bread and giving thanks; trusting in the plan to rescue and fill the empty people around him.
Thanksgiving is being thankful for the Gift-Giver, regardless of what’s in the barn.
It’s being thankful for what’s already been done, for what is presently being accomplished, and for what’s to come… three courses making a complete meal.
So go ahead, Pilgrim. Look back and thank Him for providing enough.
And rest now at the table, grateful for today’s portion.
But don’t feel guilty if you want to uncinch your bonnet and let a little of Christmas sneak in to your November …it’s right and good to thank Him for the greatest Gift yet to come.