Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
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 100:1-5
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
- Colossians 2:6-7
“I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed. It is frustrating to have discovered a new author and not to be able to tell anyone how good he is; to come suddenly, at the turn of the road, upon some mountain valley of unexpected grandeur and then to have to keep silent because the people with you care for it no more than for a tin can in the ditch; to hear a good joke and find no one to share it with. . . . The Scotch catechism says that man’s chief end is ‘to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.’ But we shall then know that these are the same thing. Fully to enjoy is to glorify. In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.”
- C. S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms
On this Thanksgiving Day in the USA, we focus on the turkey, the inadvertent nap afterwards, the family, the football games, and for some crazy bargain hunters the early-to-bed before Black Friday. You noticed that I left out the dressing. The dressing, home-made from family recipes long, long ago, is the best part of Thanksgiving, in my opinion. Southern folk know what I’m talking about. A couple of times, we have shared dressing with northern folk. They’ll say, “This is the best stuffing that I have ever tasted!” My reply is simple, “You’ve never tasted it before. It’s not stuffing; it’s dressing. It was never stuffed inside the bird.” Invariably, the northern folk stare as if we were speaking a different language. In a way, we are.
Did you notice what I left out? Thanksgiving. Holiday death tolls rise. When family makes it there safely, give thanks. You have enough income or savings to have a lavish meal. Give thanks. You are watching a football game instead of a cricket match. Give thanks. (Sorry. In my trips to India, I have actually enjoyed watching cricket, but I had to tie the football game into thankfulness somehow.)
And for God working His divine providence so that you can be married to the best cook in all of the world (talking about me being thankful here), who took your mother’s recipe for dressing and made it her own (actually all by her senses, measuring practically nothing). Give a special thanks. For the smells of baking for nearly 24 hours leading up to the meal. Give thanks. (My nap is due to eating too much. My wife is exhausted. Hey, I cook and carve the turkey.)
If we do it right, the Thanksgiving meal is praise leading to enjoyment as C. S. Lewis described.
C. S. Lewis has it right. For everything that we adore, when we praise it, we enjoy it more. I know you have your favorite NFL team, if you are a fan of the NFL. But just for a moment, picture yourself as a Steeler fan. If you are in the Pittsburgh area, you are already a Stiller fan. (Do you really have an option?!?) Now, picture yourself watching the game. Let’s go further. Now, picture yourself watching the game, yelling like crazy, and twirling a Terrible Towel over your head. In that moment when you are “all in” with your Steeler (or Stiller) fandom, you really enjoy the game. Now sing along with me, “I have a feeling. Pittsburgh’s going to the Super Bowl.”
Do you get it?
If I’d said Oakland, you’d have to wear black and silver paint on your face and silver skulls and spikes on your shoulder pads, but we’ve lived in Stiller Country for over 20 years.
Now, let’s watch people in the pews at church. Some pews are empty. Some other pews might as well be empty. The people in them are either asleep or day dreaming. By the way, don’t sneak a peek at your watch, the preacher knows the clock watchers. He or she might preach even longer.
Let’s look at Psalm 100. What words jump out? Gladness, Joyful songs, thanksgiving, praise, love endures forever. Why is it so hard to get excited and enjoy a God whose faithfulness continues through all generations? Why do we have no problem (some people, that is) with using Jesus as a curse, but to thank Him for dying so that we could live? Is that too hard? Then why sleep through a perfectly good sermon? If we can’t enjoy God for one hour, how can we enjoy God for the rest of the week?
As C. S. Lewis said, and as Psalm 100 states, God has commanded us to glorify Him. That is to thank Him, and actually remember all of the things that He has done for us. Enjoy God. You are in His presence right now. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
Happy Thanksgiving, and remember …
Soli Deo Gloria, Glory to God Alone.