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“The Spirit of Thanksgiving”

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 At times it seems like holidays exist solely for the purpose of selling merchandise.  Greeting cards, toys, candy, decorations. It’s no wonder that the Christmas displays appear after Halloween!  But, lost in all this shuffle, Thanksgiving seems to be almost overlooked.
 We have pretty much developed a “tradition” for how to celebrate this day.  We get together with family or friends and “pig out”.  We eat too much and then sit around watching football on T.V. until dinner settles enough so we can eat some cold turkey sandwiches.  The next day we go out and battle crowds at the mall on the heaviest shopping day for the next holiday - Christmas!  While none of this is wrong, it has nothing to do with the intended purpose of Thanksgiving.
 We have all heard the story of the first Thanksgiving when the pilgrims of the Plymouth Plantation gathered for a day of giving thanks in 1621.  The previous year had been an extremely hard one.  There had been bad weather, failed crops, disease.  Many of the original founders of the colony had died.   There was a growing feeling that they should give up and return to England.  During this time they had designated many days of fasting and prayer.  They determined to do so once more in late October 1621.
 But an older, godly colonist challenged their thinking. He pointed out that even though times had been hard—God had blessed them!  This year it looked like food was going to be plentiful.  Many had died—but others had been blessed with children.  And above all else, they now had possessed that which was worth all the sacrifices they had made—their religious freedom.  “The time” he said, “was not for fasting and mourning, but rather to celebrate and give thanks to God.”
 So that is the purpose for which the last Thursday of November has been set aside. To reflect on God’s blessings and give thanks to Him. How much will  “thanking God” be a part of Thanksgiving in America in 2013?  Not as much as it should be—yet, the spirit of Thanksgiving is the spirit with which God teaches us to live every day of our lives.
 “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.  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.  And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord, Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.  (Colossians 3:15-17 NIV)
 Note: “And be thankful...with gratitude in your heart...giving thanks to God the Father.”  This is the Spirit of Thanksgiving; this is the spirit of Christianity.