Thanksgiving is a holiday that predates the founding of the United States. The Pilgrims gave thanks to God for surviving their first year in the new world. Thereafter, the settlers gave thanks yearly for a good harvest. It became more politicized in 1863, when President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day in an effort to promote unity between the northern and southern states. It became a federal holiday in 1941 under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. People celebrate Thanksgiving today for various reasons. More often than not, it is viewed as a day to eat heartily, watch the Macy’s Day parade and/or innumerable football games, recognize the start of Christmas shopping season, and thank God for our nation. So, its meaning has changed over the years.
During New Testament times thanksgiving (small “s”) was an anti-imperial practice that recognized God, not Rome, as the source of supply. In a very real sense, prayer is a subversive action and a threat to every totalitarian government that seeks to control the lives of their citizens.
Christians worldwide should adopt Jesus’ prayer as our model: “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, they kingdom come, they will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread . . . .”