Sometimes we can't help pouring out our praise and thanks to God – which brings us to Thanksgiving Day.

What are the requirements for any sort of thanksgiving to happen? Something we're thankful for and somebody to thank. Seems so obvious, but I think I need to say it because it's amazing how many people can say, "I'm thankful for … " without admitting that God is there to hear their thanks. And they're certainly not giving him credit for whatever it is they're enjoying.

So what turns the fourth Thursday of November into Thanksgiving? Turkey? I know one family who doesn't like turkey. Their traditional Thanksgiving meal is Vietnamese carryout. But whatever our food traditions, is that all there is? Not if we plan real thanks into the day.

Maybe we can start by giving someone else a reason to give thanks. It might be by food donations we make ahead of time. It might be through invitations to our table – someone with no relatives nearby, a newly-arrived refugee family, a lonely neighbor.

And then how will we express our thanks to God? Perhaps there's a poster on the wall where anyone during the day can write or draw pictures of what he or she is thanking God for. Perhaps one of the children will make place cards with a verse of thanks on each, to be read sometime during the meal. Maybe this is a good day to pull out the year's journals or photo albums or videos to remind each other of all that God has done in our lives this year. And maybe Dad will begin the meal by reading or singing some words from Scripture, such as Psalm 95 below.

1Oh come, let us sing to the LORD;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
2Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
3For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods …
6Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!
7For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand.

(Psalm 95:1-3, 6-7)

"The people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand ..." Our Shepherd knows we need "especially" occasions to round up our attention and direct our thoughts toward him.

Oh, save your people and bless your heritage! Be their shepherd and carry them forever.

(Psalm 28:9)

From Treasuring God in Our Traditions by Noël Piper, copyright © 2003, pages 72-73.  Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, Illinois 60187, www.crosswaybooks.org.

Noël Piper and her husband, John, have ministered since 1980 at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. They have four adult sons, one school-aged daughter, two daughters-in-law and three grandchildren.  Noël is a graduate of Wheaton College (B.A.).

 

Visit Crosswalk's Thanksgiving Facebook page at www.facebook.com/iAmThankful.