Stewardship and Thanksgiving

On November 24 our nation will once again observe a national day of Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving Day was first celebrated in early Colonial times in New England. After the first harvest was completed by Plymouth colonists in 1621, Governor William Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving and prayer, shared by all the colonists and neighboring Native Americans. Little by little the other colonies picked up on the concept and observed a day of thanksgiving, but the dates differed.

In 1863 President Lincoln issued a White House proclamation calling on the "whole American people" wherever they lived to unite "with one heart and one voice" in observing a special day of thanksgiving. Setting apart the last Thursday of November for this purpose, President Lincoln urged prayers in the churches and in the homes to "implore the interposition of the Almighty to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it to full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and union." He also urged all Americans to express heartfelt thanks for the "blessing of fruitful fields and healthful skies."

Of course we Christians know that many Americans observe Thanksgiving Day as a day off from work, a time to watch the Macy’s parade on television, or to enjoy a festive day of food, football, and fellowship. We Christians take Thanksgiving Day more seriously and join in the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther when he penned his words of explanation to the petition "Give us this day our daily bread." He explained it this way: "God certainly gives daily bread to everyone without our prayers, even to all evil people, but we pray in this petition that God would lead us to realize this and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving."

Maturing stewards are people who recognize God as the rightful Owner of all things as well as the One who sustains and preserves the earth, air and seas and all that fills them. In the First Article of the Apostle’ Creed we boldly confess that God has made us and all creatures and has given us all the gifts we enjoy, purely out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in us. And we conclude with Luther that it is our Christian duty to thank and praise, serve and obey Him!

Come, Lord Jesus, be our Guest and let these gifts to us be blessed, and may there be a goodly share on every table everywhere, and may we help to put it there. That’s a fitting prayer for a maturing Christian steward. Happy Thanksgiving!

Pastor James Travis