Happy Thanksgiving

A man in Arizona calls his son in Chicago the day before Thanksgiving and says, “I hate to ruin your holiday, but your mother and I are divorcing; forty-five years of misery is enough.”  Frantic, the son calls his sister in New York and tells her the news.  She immediately calls and screams at her father, “You are NOT getting divorced. My brother and I will be on a flight tonight; don’t do a single thing until we get there tomorrow. The old man hangs up his phone and turns to his wife and says, “Ok, Dear, it’s all arranged; the kids are coming home for Thanksgiving and are paying their own way.”

I thought that was hysterical, though it only got a mild chuckle last night at our Thanksgiving devotional.  I guess maybe I just like devious plots that you pull on your kids! 

Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday, but thanksgiving itself is a sacred act of worship that we offer to our God.  Many of the passages in the Bible that talk about the giving of thanks to God appear in the context of worship.  Notice some examples--
Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. (1 Chronicles 16:8-9)

With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the LORD: “He is good; his love to Israel endures forever.” And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the LORD. (Ezra 3:11)

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song. (Psalm 28:7)

Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. (Psalm 105:1-2)

Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. Psalm 107:8-9

You are my God, and I will give you thanks; you are my God, and I will exalt you. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. (Psalm 118:28-29)

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever. (Psalm 136:1-3)

Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:19-20)

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16)

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

I was taught growing up that there are five acts of worship—singing, praying, preaching, communion and giving.  Those work OK if you define them broadly enough to cover all the other acts of worship they don’t cover.  And maybe thanksgiving is just a form prayer (see 1 Timothy 2:1).  But how many corporate worship services do we have that focus on the giving of thanks?  Maybe one a year… during this time of year?  I wonder if there is as close a connection between thanksgiving and our worship as there appears to be in the Bible?

Here’s something that struck me yesterday as I was putting together our thanksgiving devo.  We have only 4 songs in our hymnal that use the word “thanksgiving.”  Only 2 songs have the word “thankful” while 16 us the word “thank.”  It is interesting with the emphasis that is placed in scripture on singing and thanksgiving that this theme isn’t represented any better in our singing worship!