Probably my favorite episode of the TV show Seinfeld has to be the episode about Festivus. Festivus was a holiday one character’s father made up because he hated all the religious and commercial elements of the holiday season. The famous tagline was: a Festivus for the Rest-of-us. The holiday was just a simple meal with some peculiar twists. My favorite twist was at the beginning of the meal: the airing of grievances. Each person would take a turn going around the table telling each person how they’ve disappointed you over the past year! It’s a terrible idea! (and terribly funny, too)
It gets me thinking about how we celebrate Thanksgiving. With everyone around the table, what’s really on our mind? It’s about eating. Or it’s about family. Good things to think about. But how much thought and thanks is given to what really matters, the truly spiritual things that will last for eternity? Probably very few of us have ever started our Thanksgiving meals with little more than a prayer. That’s one reason I like worshiping on Thanksgiving Eve: it gives me an opportunity to put the next day into perspective and give it some prayerful thought without as many distractions.
Psalm 118 is a great Thanksgiving psalm. It follows a king to his own thanksgiving celebration. There’s no turkey. The house is the house of the LORD. The table is the altar of the LORD. And the guests are the righteous who follow the righteous king. And as we watch this thanksgiving celebration, we are reminded that we, too, enter into the presence of the LORD to offer our own joy-filled and humble thanks for being in the presence of the LORD and for his gift of forgiveness.
Open for me the gates of righteousness; I will enter and give thanks to the LORD.
This is the gate of the LORD through which the righteous may enter.
I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation.
The key to understanding this Psalm is Jesus. Jesus is the one who has brought us to the king. Jesus is the one who has become our salvation. Jesus is the very center of our thanksgiving becuase he died for our sins and earned a place for us in God's family.
That sets the table nicely for Thanksgiving, doesn’t it? Perhaps instead of a centerpiece of flowers, you could have a centerpiece of a cross. But no matter what, remember in your heart and in your lives that the reason you can give thanks for all the good things in this life is because you have been made right with God. You can enter into his presence and give him thanks, too.
God bless you and your family this Thanksgiving!
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