Thanksgiving Around the World

 

Address by the Rev. James P. Cooper

O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy is forever. (PSA 107:1)

  1. Canada takes the 2nd Monday in October to give thanks to God for the good harvest and for the good health and fortune of the people.
    1. In the United States, Thanksgiving is closely associated with the story of the Pilgrims.
      1. Certainly those poor people who had fled from their homes and come to a dangerous and uncivilized new world had much to give thanks for – and we can learn a lot from their dedication to religious freedom and their courage.
    2. But that story is such a good one that it may distract us from thinking about the fact not only do people in other countries celebrate Thanksgiving, but that it may be that more people have Thanksgiving in common than any other holiday.
    3. No matter what country they live in, People of many Religions throughout the world set aside a day at the end of the harvest season, to think about the blessings they have received from their Creator.
  2. The Writings tell us that when the Lord was on earth as a Teacher, He presented his ideas in a way that was specially suited to the European or western way of thinking.
    1. In His Divine Wisdom, the Lord knows that with so many different kinds of people in the world, there would have to be many different ways of teaching them.
    2. In His Divine Providence He formed other great religions through prophets like Mohammed and Buddha so that people of every kind in every land could find a path to heaven even if they didn’t know about or understand the miracle of the Lord’s birth on earth.
    3. But if they don’t know about the Lord, they don’t have Christmas or Easter because those are holidays that celebrate great events in the Lord’s life.
      1. But the people in every nation throughout the world need to eat. People everywhere depend on the bounty that comes from the earth each year.
    4. People everywhere give thanks to God, no matter which of His names they use in their prayers, for they know that they could not live a moment if it were not for God’s gifts to us.
      1. For example, people of the Jewish faith all over the World celebrate Sukkoth, or the feast of the Ingathering in October (the date varies according to the lunar calendar). It marks the end of the harvest season, specifically the vintage and fruit harvest of the Holy Land.
      2. Islamic people have a month of fasting each year called Ramadan, and they celebrate the end of the fast with feasting and thanksgiving for the many blessings they enjoy.
      3. Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to [all] the children of men! {9} For He satisfies the longing soul, And fills the hungry soul with goodness. (PSA 107:8-9)
  3. Throughout the world, people are turning to God in Thanksgiving for his gifts of food and life. And, as important as these are, they are just the beginnings, the foundation of the good gifts that He gives to us, and for which we should be thankful – not just today but everyday.
    1. We bring forward our gifts of fruit because they particularly represent uses.
    2. These things grown from the good earth are representatives of all the various uses that we are called on to perform for ourselves and others.
    3. The Lord asks us to do these things for others in His name, because He asks us to, not just so that we will appear to be good people.
    4. When we are genuinely useful, when we take these gifts that the Lord provides, and use them to care for and protect others, it is a way of giving them back to the Lord, of giving thanks to Him, and recognizing that He is the source of all good things.
  4. On this day that we set aside to give thanks to the Lord we should look first at the wonderful bounty that the earth provides, the good food that we have in abundance – not just at how much food there is, but how many different kinds of food we have.
    1. All the different kinds of food can remind us that they represent all the different ways that people can find to be useful to other people, that from things we begin to think about and be thankful for the people who are in our lives.
    2. All the different people we know and the way they relate to each other as friends or family or through work or school can remind us about the way that heaven itself works:
    3. Millions and Millions of people, gathered there since the beginning of time, finding delightful ways of working and playing together, and giving thanks to God for His blessings.
    4. We have so much to be grateful for. But we do not give thanks today because the Lord demands it of us. He has no need of our thanks. He knows we cannot ever pay Him back for what He has given us, and does not expect us to try.
    5. But, because He made us, He knows that it is good for us to thank Him, to be reminded from time to time that all good is from the Lord, all blessings flow into our world from Him, and we can only truly receive Him into our hearts when we open our hearts to Him in Thanksgiving.

O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy is forever. (PSA 107:8)

AMEN.

 

First Lesson:

(PSA 107:1-14) Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. {8} Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! {9} For He satisfies the longing soul, And fills the hungry soul with goodness. {10} Those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, Bound in affliction and irons; {11} Because they rebelled against the words of God, And despised the counsel of the Most High, {12} Therefore He brought down their heart with labour; They fell down, and there was none to help. {13} Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, And He saved them out of their distresses. {14} He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, And broke their chains in pieces.

Second Lesson:

[7] True confession of the heart, because it flows from celestial love, is confession in the genuine sense. The person with whom it exists acknowledges that everything good comes from the Lord and everything evil from self. When that acknowledgement exists with him it is a state of humiliation, for in this case he acknowledges the Lord to be everything in him and he himself in comparison to be nothing. And when confession is made in this state it flows from celestial love.

 

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