Meaning Of Thanksgiving: Perspectives

This Thanksgiving holiday may give retailers and restaurants reason to be thankful but the push to increase sales may come at the expense of trivializing one of America’s important holidays.

Yet, there is hope to the contrary. Out of the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy a glimmer of light shines that reflects the pilgrim spirit of Thanksgiving. Cliff and Jaimee Baker of Toms River, New Jersey have invited all of those people who have sacrificed to restore their community to their home for a huge Thanksgiving dinner. (Read more: http://wobm.com/the-meaning-of-thanksgiving-in-a-post-sandy-world)

Such acts are miracles in themselves, but the spirit of appreciation is not limit in its expression to the giving and receiving of food.

Richard Kizema also discovered Thanksgiving is a time of miracles. Not only did God create people with the ability to learn and practice life saving skills, Kizema is thankful that they populated Massachusetts General Hospital about four Thanksgivings past. They fixed his heart for which he and his family are thankful. (Read More: http://www.massgeneral.org/heartcenter/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=1097)

Thanksgiving means different things to different people. It is as much about perspective as history.

Let’s consider a few more perspectives about Thanksgiving.

Economic Perspective: The original contract the Pilgrims had with their merchant-sponsors in London called for everything they produced to go into a common store. Each member of the community was entitled to one common share. All of the land they cleared and the houses they built belonged to the community. Bradford, as governor, recognized the inherent problem with this collectivist system.

“The experience that was had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years … that by taking away property, and bringing community into common wealth, would make them happy and flourishing – as if they were wiser than God,” Bradford wrote. “For this community [so far as it was] was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For young men that were most able and fit for labor and service did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children without any recompense … that was thought injustice.”

What a surprise! Even back then people did not want to work without incentive. Bradford decided to assign a plot of land to each family to work and manage, thus turning loose the power of free enterprise. What was the result?

“This had very good success,” wrote Bradford, “for it made all hands industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been.”

As a result, the Pilgrims soon found they had more food than they could eat themselves. They set up trading posts and exchanged goods with the Indians. The profits allowed them to pay off their debts to the merchants in London much faster than expected. The success of the Plymouth colony thus attracted more Europeans and set off what we call the “Great Puritan Migration.”

But it wasn’t just an economic system that allowed the Pilgrims to prosper. It was their devotion to God and His laws. And that’s what Thanksgiving is really all about. The Pilgrims recognized that everything we have is a gift from God – even our sorrows. Their Thanksgiving tradition was established to honor God and thank Him for His blessings and His grace. Read more: (http://www.wnd.com/2001/11/11760 & https://www.aier.org/article/819-real-meaning-thanksgiving-triumph-capitalism-over-collectivism)

Jewish Perspective: Thanksgiving as the Good Book intended it may be summed up like this: “Gratitude when we receive our fair share — and hell to pay for those who grab it away. Class warfare? That’s when people enrich themselves at others’ expense. Getting it back is called justice.” (Read more: http://forward.com/articles/146434/revealing-true-meaning-of-thanksgiving)

Political Perspective: Our nation’s first president presented the first official perspective on Thanksgiving. It scope is national and political. Below is the text of George Washington’s Thanksgiving proclamation:

“Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and

“Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness”:

“Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the Beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

“And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our national government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best,

“Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3d day of October, AD 1789”

Religious Perspective: What’s forgotten is how the original Thanksgiving was a time of penitence and reconciliation of neighbor with neighbor and of humanity with God.

How fitting this underlying theme of reconciliation would be in these post-election days after bruising battles, spurious accusations, fudging of the truth, and rancorous political punditry. Should such reconciliation break forth we would be truly grateful. We would palpably experience God at work among us. (Read More: http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2019699280_howell17m.html)

Americans have wondered far from both the source and reason for celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday. Maybe it is time for a return to the real meaning of Thanksgiving.

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