Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because it brings our attention away from ourselves and back to the One who has been so kind to us. Our Father in Heaven has been immeasurably good to us and we are to obey his call to give thanks to Him, because His steadfast love endures forever. I hope that today we can begin to consider what all we are thankful for and see them all as gifts of our great God.
We all must be thankful for the first fact that we may call God, the Creator of Heaven and earth, our Father. Human fathers are meant for us to see the glory and wonder of the Father in Heaven. He is loving, kind, generous, good, caring and all together righteous. His loves endures forever, first his love off his own glory and for His Son. It is with this love that He has loved us, a love that is endless and eternal. God’s love for His Son compelled Him to create us to enter into this eternal loving relationship that He has with His Son, Jesus Christ. It is this love that Satan hates and deceived us to reject and it is this love that compelled the Son of God to leave heaven and come to earth, to put on flesh and dwell among us. This is the event that we celebrate next on our calendars, so Thanksgiving allows us to prepare our hearts to say thanks to the great gift of heaven: Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Man, the one who by his blood has bought our place in the Father’s family and at his table, an eternal table who’s feast never ends, whose wine never runs out.
The eternal family, the Trinity has also given us the gift of the family. The Triune God is by nature familial and has bestowed this gift on us. In the Old Testament, The Lord is called a husband because He has a wife. Jesus is called a groom in the New Testament because He has a bride. In a marriage, we have in the flesh a sight into the mystery of union with the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal son of God. Our governmental authorities and society desire to define marriage as they determine and have thus distorted and defiled this blessed institution. But we in Christ see the wonder of this union of man and woman. In marriage we see someone like us, bone of bone and flesh of flesh, like Jesus Christ is like us in his taking on of flesh. But we also see that this other one is not like me. Man is not a woman and woman is not a man. Such is Christ Jesus: While in the flesh, he is not like us: We are created beings in flesh and He is the eternal God who put on flesh. As the Apostle Paul said this is a mystery.
This mystery is why I am thankful for my wife and the gift she is to me. I am privileged to see in her how the inner beauty that comes from the Spirit shines through and makes a woman great. She is truly the crown of my life, as I know you husbands would say of your wives.
The gift of family is also expressed in our parent and child relationships. What makes God a Father is that He has a Son. Look at the little ones, or older ones that you have: they are God’s gift to you to know the love the Son has for the Father. Parents are to be the one that God gives children to learn the love the Father has for the Son. When we see our children, we see gifts that we give thanks for. Not merely for the patience and long-suffering they teach us, but from their love for us, the image of God we see in them, their unique personalities and gifting from God, their trust of us, their humor, their fascination with God’s creation and countless other things. My kids have brought out a well of love from my heart I didn’t know existed. I never knew I could love someone from the moment I saw them and with joy I take on the privilege of being their daddy. I stay tired from wrestling, walking, playing, reading and many other good things, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
We should also be thankful for the others that we call family. I’m thankful for my mother and that she cares so much for me, my wife and my kids. Nana always makes my kids smile and not just because she comes bearing gifts and candy, although that doesn’t hurt.
I’m thankful for my extended family who love us and are always there to help, even when its unexpected.
I’m thankful for a home that reflects the beauty of its designer and is filled with the sound of laughter and often cluttered with the remnants of kids who are called to play like its their job.
I’m thankful for friends that I can count on and who seem to believe they can count on me, even if its moving a piano in the rain, or hoisting a couch over a second story banister.
I’m thankful for friends who know I’m mechanically impaired and are glad to help me out, anytime they can.
I’m thankful for a church that has graciously received my family and friends into their church as one of them because in Christ we are one.
I’m thankful for a church that loves to be together on the Lord’s Day for worship, preaching and fellowship
I’m thankful for the inheritance and heritage of our forefathers who brought this holiday about and for the heritage they gave our country.
I’m thankful that even though our heritage seems to be slipping away, we have a God who is ever faithful to his people.
I’m thankful for many other things: good health for me and my family, fall weather, the color of trees in the change of seasons, medium rare steaks, fried turkey, fried chicken, spaghetti and meatballs, any kind of pie that doesn't have coconut, coca-cola, whole milk, hot coffee, baseball, nights on the patio, vacations to the beach, sunrises and sunsets, bonfires both large and small, comfortable chairs, flannel shirts, good books and long, slow walks.
Without our God, none of these things gifts would be possible. We owe him endless amounts of thanks and praise for his goodness to us. So let us feast and have fun tonight with glad and thankful hearts. May his name be blessed as long as His love endures, forever and ever.