Delivered by Rev. Father Steven Macias at the Canterbury Christian School Thanksgiving Chapel Service on Tuesday, November 20, 2018.
“Why We Are Thankful”
Thanksgiving is a time when families and friends gather together, when Churches conduct special services of Thanksgiving. It is most clearly symbolized by the delicious golden turkey cooked to perfection. But it is also symbolized by the spiral-shaped cornucopia overflowing with fruits and ears of grain. Thanksgiving brings to every last one of us wonderful memories from the past and warm inviting thoughts concerning the future.
We do well to stop and ask ourselves a question in the quietness of this chapel this morning. Why is there a Thanksgiving Day at all? This morning, let us consider two reasons – two important reasons – why we celebrate Thanksgiving this year – and every year!
First. We celebrate this special day – as strange as it may sound – because the world is a place of scarcity. What is scarcity? Scarce means the opposite of plenty. Scarce means the opposite of abundant. This is the unpleasant reality of the world in which we live! It is an immovable fact of life we do well not to forget! To have anything at all in a world of scarcity is a true cause to be thankful. There are many places in this world this morning – some not too far from us – where extreme poverty (abject poverty) dominates the lives of many people. My grandparents and many of your grandparents came to this country to escape such poverty.
What is so harsh about poverty is that without proper food, there is no proper nutrition. Without proper nutrition, there is disease and debilitation and all too often, death. The world became a place of scarcity when our first parents, Adam and Eve, sinned in the Garden of Eden. Thorns and thistles began to grow and to infest the ground, making it difficult – and very labor intensive – to grow food. God told Adam, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground…” (Genesis 3:19) God teaches us through scarcity to trust in Him and to depend upon Him!
In order for any society to have enough food to eat, there must be a willingness on the part of people of the land to work, to save their money and to be thrifty. To produce just a single loaf of bread requires a tremendous amount of effort! Someone needs to purchase the land. Then someone must purchase the seed. Someone needs to prepare the soil. Someone needs to plant the seed, to water the seed, to tend the young plants and then finally to harvest the crop. Someone needs to separate the kernel from the stalk and the chaff. Someone needs to grind the kernel into flour. Someone needs to make the dough. Someone must knead the dough. Someone must form the loaf. Someone must then bake the bread.
Free societies which allow people to keep the rewards of their hard work have proven themselves to be the best at producing food – as well as producing all of the other necessities and comforts of life. The Bible protects private property and has been – humanly speaking – the number one reason why America has been for so long a land of plenty. We can certainly be thankful we live in a land where work has been honored and where savings and thrift rewarded! As strange as it may sound, we celebrate Thanksgiving because the Bible teaches us this world is a harsh sphere of scarcity!
We are thankful that in this world of scarcity we can subdue and create, that as priests and kings of Christ’s Kingdom, we can have life and life abundantly.
God is Gracious To Us
Second. We celebrate this special day because it is our gracious Heavenly Father Who carefully watches over each of us and Who has entrusted to us all that we have and enjoy!
The Scriptures are most clear on this point. Jesus taught us in the Sermon on the Mount that our Heavenly Father “maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:45) Without the sun and photosynthesis, without the hydrologic cycle and the beautiful refreshing rains they bring, you and I would soon die.
One of the greatest statements concerning our Heavenly Father is surely this. He is the summum bonum of life. What does summum bonum mean? It means that our Everlasting God is the supreme good from which all other good in this world is derived! He is the fountainhead, He is the well, He is the source of all goodness. And He does not have to be good to us. But He has been very good to us on account of His compassion and His unending mercy. All good in this world comes from the Hand of our Heavenly Father!
Do you enjoy reading a good book? Remember! That is a gift from God! Do you enjoy watching the amazing flight of a hummingbird or hearing the intriguing call of a seagull? That is a gift from God! Do you enjoy the colors of a flower or the hug of a grandmother or the smile of your teacher? That is a gift from God! Do you enjoy nice clothes or your soft pillow or your snuggly bed or the smell of clean sheets? That is a gift from God! Everything which is good in this world is truly from God’s gracious Hand!
His Mercy Endureth Forever
The psalmist of old has recorded (Psalm 136) for our benefit this great reminder:
O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever.
O give thanks unto the God of gods: for his mercy endureth forever.
O give thanks to the Lord of lords: for his mercy endureth forever.
O give thanks unto the God of heaven: for his mercy endureth forever.
Why are we thankful this Thanksgiving season?
First, because all we have has been given to us in a world of harsh scarcity!
Why are we thankful this Thanksgiving season?
Second, because every good item in our lives comes from the Hand of our gracious and merciful and loving Heavenly Father.
O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.