“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” —Psalm 100:4
The entry point into God’s presence is through thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is humility in action; it demonstrates both a sense of personal need and specific gratitude. To be thankful, one must recognize their own incompleteness as well as acknowledge the essential forces outside of one’s self. Beyond this, thankfulness shows an awareness of the caring heart of others and the involved heart of God through His tailor-made circumstances.
That we would have such a national holiday is a gift given to us across time by our forefathers who bequeathed us the “secret” to God’s favor upon them. It reminds some Americans of a special ground-breaking segment of our heritage steeped in spiritual humility before the later stain of slavery, and the willingness of people to risk their lives for the possibility of unfettered spirituality. To many current secularists and revisionists of our history, it is “quaintness” dressed in uneducated superstition. To others it is a holiday, a day off work, and football with turkey. To the darkly-driven secularist it is a holiday yet to be commercially co-opted or legally driven out of our culture.
As our nation continues down the darkening journey of confusion over our history and growing insecurity over our future, the observance of Thanksgiving offers us a cultural marker. It speaks of that which makes mankind most human and fragile. It acknowledges that things and events could have gone another way—and because they didn’t, we have faith to invest energetically in our future. Perhaps my greatest personal challenge with the holiday dimension of it is that I fear so much of our nation knows nothing of its historical origins and context and, thereby, will at some later date easily allow the marker to be re-named. That, to me, would be worse than removing it; co-opting something sacred is a standing monument to strategic subversion and a personal insult more powerful than a once-celebrated memory.
May those of us who seek to live in thanksgiving and celebrate it as a gift of our national heritage use it as a point of inspiration. If our national past could have indeed gone differently, then so can our future. And that is… THE BOTTOM LINE.