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1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Thanksgiving has been a national holiday in the United States since 1789 though it has changed dates throughout the yearly calendar before landing on the fourth Thursday of November in 1941. Many countries celebrate a Thanksgiving holiday like Canada who celebrates on the second Monday in October; each country has its own ways and traditions. The Bible draws great importance from the discipline of thanksgiving and there’s no better time to practice it than on your own country’s official day of Thanksgiving.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Paul says imperatively that being joyful, praying continually, and giving thanks in all circumstances is God’s will for us in Christ Jesus and Christians have much to be thankful for. We are thankful for God’s goodness and steadfast love (1 Chronicles 16:34), our salvation in Christ (John 3:16), the Holy Spirit (John 14:26), God’s righteousness and justice (Psalm 7), and for each other (1 Thessalonians 1; 2:13, 20). However, when suffering comes our way, being thankful provides a challenge.
The Thessalonian church is an example of giving thanks during trials as they were experiencing severe persecution (1 Thessalonians 1:6). They endured suffering faithfully with joy and thanksgiving. Paul thanks them for their “work produced by faith, labor prompted by love, and endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:3). Paul then encourages them to continue in their good works but even more so (1 Thessalonians 4:1). As final instructions, Paul says, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). The only way it is possible to carry out God’s will in joy, prayer and thanksgiving is to be fully dependent on Christ and keep our focus on him. As America prepares to celebrate Thanksgiving with traditions as eating turkey and watching football, let us strive to live as our Thessalonian brothers and sisters did in the first century – being joyful always, praying continually, and always giving thanks.
Give Thanks to the Lord
Give Thanks to the Lord, is a book written by Karma Wilson, an author that has been writing for children because she believes that knowledge comes through words, and children can learn important lessons through illustrations. For this reason, she wrote this book for children from 2-6 years old, celebrating this Thanksgiving season with a heartwarming story that points to Psalm 92. Karma Wilson started this book in the same way that Psalm 92 starts, “It is good to give thanks to the Lord”. By starting with the Psalm, she demonstrates the purpose of this book: to teach children the importance of Giving thanks to our Heavenly Father in the good and bad. She communicates the story from the point of view of a young child, and how he can celebrate joys of all kinds. This book can be read as a family, and it will be an opportunity for parents to create an environment where their children can think about all the reasons that they have to be grateful. If you are interested in acquiring this resource, you may access it here.
Duck for Turkey Day
Duck For Turkey Day by Jacqueline Jules narrates a story about Tuyet and her Vietnamese American family. The story starts from school where Tuyet learns that Thanksgiving is Turkey Day. However, much to her disappointment, her family chose duck instead of turkey which went against the “Thanksgiving rule” she learned from school. After Thanksgiving, her class shared with each other what they did, and Tuyet was pleasantly surprised to hear that all of her classmates had unique and special ways of celebrating. Most of them did not even have Turkey! The reading age for this book is 4-8 years old. It is a light-hearted story that teaches children that there are diverse ways of celebrating the American holiday of Thanksgiving. The one commonality all the children had was being with family, and Jules uses this story to emphasize the value of family during Thanksgiving and holiday seasons no matter how you celebrate it. You can find the book here.
There are many different cultures all around the world that celebrate giving thanks in very different ways. In America many people gather to eat good food like this tasty corn casserole recipe you can find here. In places like Mexico people might also gather to celebrate and give thanks, but they may eat different foods like this delicious Enchiladas Rojas recipe found here. In South Korea everyone gathers with their families to celebrate the holiday of Chuseok. They will eat lots of flavorful food and play games like the Jegichagi game. A tutorial of this game can be found here. All of these traditions may be very familiar or seem quite different, but each has something special to offer. As we teach children about what it means to be thankful to the Lord, it is worth adding some new traditions into our repertoire to show them just how many different ways there are to rejoice in what God has done.