Sometimes people complain about the Christmas celebrations beginning too early, but our Thanksgiving service on Sunday was awesome highlighting the reason we are have reason to give thanks.
The Word Became Flesh: A Cause for Thanks
(Verses referenced in the video)
In my distress I called out to the Lord, And he answered me. I cried out from the depth of Sheol and you heard my voice.
Give thanks to the Lord for He is good,
His lovingkindess is everlasting.
~ Psalm 118:1-2
In the beginning was the WORD, and the WORD was with God and the WORD was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
~ John 1:2
All things were made through Him and without Him, nothing was made that was made.
~ John 1:3
In Him was life,
and the life was the LIGHT of men.
~ John 1:4
And the LIGHT shines in the darkness, and the darkness understood it not.
~ John 1:5
He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him.
He came to His own,
and His own did not receive Him.
~ John 1:11
He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies
~ John 11:25
And Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me, does not believe in Me but in Him who sent Me. He who sees Me sees the One who sent Me. I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.
~ John 12:44-46
God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?
So will My WORD be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.
~ Isaiah 55:11
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name
~ John 1:12
And the WORD became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
~ John 1:14
“Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? Who hath gathered the wind in his fists? Who hath bound the waters in a garment? Who hath established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell?”
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”
~ Isaiah 9:6
The Lord said to me, ‘They have spoken well. I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him.
~ Deuteronomy 18:15-19
“He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.”
“And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord;”
~ Isaiah 11:2
“THE Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;”
“As many were astonished at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men:”
~ Isaiah 52:14
I am poured out like water, And all My bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; It has melted within Me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And My tongue clings to My jaws; You have brought Me to the dust of death. For dogs have surrounded Me; The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet; I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me. They divide My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.
And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
~ Philippians 2:8-11
For I know that my Redeemer lives,
And He shall stand at last on the earth;
And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God,
Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another.
~ Job 19:25-27
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.
Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out!
Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them. For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.
~ Psalm 107:8-9
Thanksgiving and Hanukkah
If people hadn’t heard of Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, before they have now. For the first time since 1888, Thanksgiving has fallen on the first day of Hanukkah, the 25th of Kislev.
I’ve heard a lot of people saying, “This won’t happen again for another 79,000 years . . . which I think came from this article from Time. Considering how poorly they described not only what Hanukkah was about, but completely skipped the fact that the Puritans were escaping religious persecution in England . . . I hesitate to give any credence to their calculations.
I did a little more research. According to this article on Chabad.org, the Jewish calendar is shifting and eventually not only will Hanukkah be completely out of November but the other feasts will be out of their appointed seasons as well. So how that 79,000 year figure came up, I don’t know. This is the calculation from Chabad.org:
So while Thanksgiving will fall during the eight day celebration of Hanukkah in 2070 and 2165, I think that 79,000 year estimate is completely bogus.
In another article on Chabad.org, the writer not only gives a much better explanation of the connection of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah:
It’s (Thanksgiving) a narrative about an arduous journey to escape religious persecution for freedom in a new land, the establishment of a democratic charter, and the sense of divine providence that carried those refugees through their plight.
That’s Chanukah, as well: a narrative deeply embedded in the collective Jewish psyche of how we fought back against religious oppression in our own land, earned our freedom, and thanked G‑d for the miracles.
. . . but also explains why the observance matters.
So, Chanukah and Thanksgiving are deeply connected, and that connection can be summed up in just four words: “Thank G-d, we’re free.”
Why are those words important? Thanksgiving is a national holiday, not a religious holiday. But please tell me, whom are Americans thanking? The turkey?
So, what’s so important about thanking G-d?
Because it’s at that point that you become truly free of religious oppression.
Holidays, “holy days,” aren’t just about family and food. They are times of remembering, and not only to remember, but to remember what God has done for us.
The First Official Thanksgiving
While there are different claims to the “first” Thanksgiving including a Catholic mass in 1565, a feast of Thanksgiving in 1607, and the most commonly identified with the Thanksgiving, the Pilgrim feast in 1622, Thanksgiving did not become an official national holiday until 1863.
In that year, Abraham Lincoln responded to a request by Sarah Hale, editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book and author, for a national day of thanksgiving and prayer. She had petitioned presidents for 15 years with no success. However, in 1863, in the midst of the American Civil War, President Lincoln agreed with her that it was necessary for the nation to be united in prayer.
Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln
By the President of the United States of America.
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.
In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.
Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore.
Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.
It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.
I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.
And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln
Lincoln acknowledged that even in the midst of the most traumatic and divisive war that the nation had seen, that the U.S. was being blessed.
Did he use that to give himself a boost over his political enemies? No. He gave the glory to God.
He acknowledged that the nation was blessed beyond what it deserved and that it was not by human effort, but those blessings were solely through the grace of God.
The Thanksgiving proclamation was not only setting the aside the day for thanksgiving and prayer to God, but also as a day of repentance. He called on the nation to call to God, repenting of the sins of the nation, and to ask God to bring peace.
He acknowledged the One who all blessings come from and asked for God’s continued guidance because President Lincoln knew, as did David, that there is no success unless the Lord builds a house.
Unless the Lord builds a house,
the work of the builders is wasted.
Unless the Lord protects a city,
guarding it with sentries will do no good.
It is useless for you to work so hard
from early morning until late at night,
anxiously working for food to eat;
for God gives rest to his loved ones.
~ Psalm 127:1-2
 Steinmetz, Katy. Hapy Thanksgivukkah! Five Things Thanksgiving and Hanukkah Have in Common. Time.com. 25 November 2013. Accessed 28 November 2013.
 Freeman, Tzvi. Chanukah and Thanksgiving: A Brief History. Chabad.org. 27 November 2013. Accessed 28 November 2013.
 Freeman, Tzvi. Thanksgiving Meets Chanukah. Chabad.org. 27 November 2013. Accessed 28 November 2013.
 Gioia, Robyn. America’s Real First Thanksgiving. Pineapple Press. 2007.
 Vick. Kristine. The First Thanksgiving. CBN.com. Accessed 28 November 2013.
 Abraham Lincoln: “Proclamation 106 – Thanksgiving Day, 1863,” October 3, 1863. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=69900.
 Proclamation of Thanksgiving. Abraham Lincoln Online. Accessed 28 November 2013.