“I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify Him with thanksgiving” Psalm 69:30
Upon my return to Canada from Chile, I was introduced to the Thanksgiving holiday as my parents are originally from here and it was part of our cultural heritage. A day off is always welcome when you are a student but for me it was always a three day Bible conference. When you are a child and early teen, this meant long meetings! The reality was that I usually did not enjoy a turkey dinner in my home. As I have moved on from that group of churches, I have returned to a more traditional celebration of this holiday which I enjoy. For some the Thanksgiving holiday means a vacation possibly a shopping trip or maybe a family dinner as we watch football, the beginning of hockey or the baseball playoffs. Whatever you do, I hope its enjoyable. My desire in writing though is to help us consider what true gratitude is; but first I want to give you some historical anecdotes about how this holiday originated here in Canada.
Background of Thanksgiving in Canada
Thanksgiving Day in Canada has been a holiday on the second Monday of October since 1957. It is a chance for people to give thanks for a good harvest and other good things in the past year.
The native peoples of the Americas held ceremonies and festivals to celebrate the completion and bounty of the harvest long before European explorers and settlers arrived in what is now Canada. Early European thanksgivings were held to give thanks for some special fortune. An early example is the ceremony the explorer Martin Frobisher held in 1578 after he had survived the long journey in his quest to find a northern passage from Europe to Asia.
Many thanksgivings were held following noteworthy events during the 18th century. Refugees fleeing the civil war in the United States brought the custom of an annual thanksgiving festival to Canada. From 1879, Thanksgiving Day was held every year but the date varied and there was a special theme each year. The theme was the "Blessings of an abundant harvest" for many years. However, Queen Victoria's golden and diamond jubilees and King Edward VII's coronation formed the theme in later years.
From the end of the First World War until 1930, both Armistice Day and Thanksgiving Day were celebrated on the Monday closest to November 11, the anniversary of the official end of hostilities in World War I. In 1931, Armistice Day was renamed Remembrance Day and Thanksgiving Day was moved to a Monday in October. Since 1957, Thanksgiving Day has always been held on the second Monday in October.
As you can see the purpose of Thanksgiving was to pause and take as a community to be grateful. In the U.S.A. the early pilgrims were very grateful towards God as the harvest often yielded an abundance of provisions. Today the true understanding of it has been lost in the busyness and distractions of our lives.
In Psalm 69:30 the writer shares how even though there is struggle in life the best response one can have is to set aside time to worship and to offer thanksgiving to God. The original idea behind Thanksgiving was to be appreciative of the bountiful harvest of fruit and vegetables.
Arriving at that day a farmer would have worked long hard days, he would have had worries regarding weather harming the crops or plagues like locusts or lack of water to properly nourish their labour. The hardships and concerns were many but the joy they would have felt upon achieving these goals before a long winter would have at times overwhelmed them with happiness. The Psalmist here says in verse 30 “I will praise Him with a song”. One of the ways we express ourselves is through music, how many times has a song touched you whether in a joyous occasion or in a sad moment. A spiritually based Christian song will often bring joy through a sad circumstance. That is a paradoxical statement isn’t it? It is so very true though. One song that means a lot to me is a song written and performed by Chris Rice titled “Come to Jesus”.
The second part of the verse states, “I will magnify Him with thanksgiving”(ESV). Most renditions of this verse use the word “magnify”
which I really like. The whole idea of magnification is to make something bigger or greater so the true image or value can be clearly seen. You and I can truly show the goodness and greatness of God through our thankful attitude regardless of the circumstances. It will be a blessing to other Christians as well as a clear testimony to non-believers. Whether its in joy or sorrow our life in God through our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ can bring this truth to life. So this thanksgiving whether there is joy or sadness in your life, choose to be grateful to God and magnify Him.....the results will always be a blessing to you and to others and ultimately to God! (see verse 31)
By: Pastor David Jones