A psalm. For giving thanks.
1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. 2 Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his [a] ;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations. *
We’re entering a season filled with wonderful possibilities for any thoughtful, worshipful person. Unfortunately, both occasions coming within days of each other(Thanksgiving and Christmas) have been seized by a world-view which knows or cares very little about spiritual significance. It is all now about profit. “Get all you can and can all you get.” Admittedly, there’s something captivating about the sweet, sentimental carols, the frosted, faded memories of Christmas lights and the pungent smell of evergreen trees and days gone by. But in our intoxication with the superficial, we risk losing sight of the profound. The “cha-ching” of the cash registers is sweeter music to the merchants’ ears than “Away in a Manger.” The compulsion to find the latest, greatest toy, or fashion statement, or sophisticated electronic gadget seems to overpower our need to worship and plays havoc with our already over-burdened budgets and our common sense.
As for Thanksgiving, I still value the stories of the early pilgrims feeling a need to express thanks for their very survival and for “harvest home.” Scripture teaches that the “attitude of gratitude” should be constant, in good times as well as bad. A very cursory, quick check of your Bible Concordance lists many places where “thanks, thankfulness, thanksgiving,” or related words appear. I hope you have opportunity once again to read (and meditate upon) the beautiful One Hundredth Psalm.
Actually, the Bible teaches that our attitude of thankfulness should be constant. . . not just for one day, however well-intentioned we may be. . . .not just when things go the way we like. “In EVERYTHING give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (I Thessalonians 5:18). Writing to the young church at Philippi (4:6-7), Paul told them a very important part of praying was that “with thanksgiving you should let your requests be known unto God,” and as a result of praying that way, “the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ our Lord.”
We’ve grown accustomed to finding the “Christmas story” in the Gospels. In this time of “thanksgiving,” and as we turn toward Christmas, how do you like Paul’s additional reason for gratitude: “Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift.” (II Corinthians 9:15)? What’s it all about? Christmas. The Message. The Gift. And Paul, who was far more articulate and intelligent than I, was at a complete loss for words. No matter how he stuttered and stammered, he could not adequately, accurately describe the “Gift” God had given that first Christmas. He tried to put into words the value of the “GIFT” which God has given. . . but simply could not pack such meaning into the limited language with which he tried to communicate.
I know I can’t, either. But I’m trying. As I’ve done before, I’m trying to examine the Scriptural accounts and inviting the Christ to recreate in me a proper sense of wonder. A proper attitude of a grateful sinner toward the loving Saviour.
For your own soul’s sake, may I urge you to take time to do that.
My prayer for you is that you experience a joyous, meaningful Thanksgiving and Christmas with those whom you love. And that you’ll know the joy and abiding peace which comes with knowing the Prince of Peace.
God’s servant, your friend, brother, and fellow student.
*Psalm 100 (New International Version)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 byInternational Bible Society