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Thoughts on Thanksgiving - 'We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing...'
November 22, 2018

 

As a Jew growing up in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio, I always preferred Thanksgiving to all other holidays. Since, at that time, I didn’t really have a ‘personal’ faith in God, I liked that there were no religious requirements, such as attending services at temple. As I grew up, I appreciated that there was no exchanging of gifts, (since I really don’t like to shop!) I also loved that we celebrated in the fall, with the crisp autumn air, the leaves turning color, and lots of football on TV. (The Cleveland Browns were good in those days!)

 

I have fond memories of our family gathered in our little house, a long table connected by ‘leaves,’ with wax turkey and pilgrim figurines as decoration. There were parents and grandparents and cousins, all assembled to ‘give thanks’ and to enjoy each other and a delicious turkey dinner with all the trimmings; stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce and—in our house—hand prepared chopped liver, for which my mom deserved a medal, (if there were such an award.) My dad took pride in carving the big brown bird—a skill I never picked up, unfortunately—and a great time was had by all, year after year.

Of course, as the seasons passed, things changed. We kids went off to college and had to make the pilgrimage back home. Still, the yearly family reunion was always something greatly anticipated. As time went on, tossing the football and playing in the leaves gave way to political discussions—which sometimes disrupted our ‘attitude of gratitude.’ Nonetheless, Thanksgiving remained as the best of times.

 

Times, of course changed; marriage took ‘the kids’ to different venues; having children brought new considerations; the loss of loved ones made the tables a bit less long and less crowded.
Fast forward to the present: Jenny and I will be blessed to gather with dear friends out of town, apart from our daughter and son-in-law and grandson. Thanksgiving is no longer the big family gathering it once was. I kind of miss the ‘good ol’ days, though I know we’ll all enjoy the feast, as we always have.

 

With everything that has changed, however, much has stayed the same—and then some.
I STILL love this holiday! It remains a wonderful time for ‘food and fellowship and football’ during my favorite season of the year. Though I now enjoy religious services, they are not required and, mercifully, I STILL don’t have to go shopping!!
Most of all, as a believer in Yeshua,Jesus, I know now—as I did not in my youth—to whom I am giving thanks: our Father in heaven; the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

 

This is only fitting. It was to this same Lord that the early settlers of this ‘new world’ gave thanks; praising Him for their bounty; taking as their model the harvest festivals of ancient Israel; leaving a legacy of thanksgiving for future generations.
Looking back—and looking forward—I am more grateful than ever before; for life and love; for health and wholeness; for today’s provision and tomorrow’s promise; for family and friends.
‘I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his descendants begging bread. He is ever merciful, and lends; And his descendants are blessed.’ (Psalm 37:25+26)
So says the psalmist—and so say I!

 

And to all you fellow ‘pilgrims’ on your own personal journeys, may this Thanksgiving bring you the best of His blessings; may this season be one of fond remembrance and the making of memories; may you know how much you are appreciated by my family and me.

 

And for all who are gathered together through our Messiah into HIS family:

‘Thanks Be to God for His indescribable gift!’ (2Cor: 9:15)

Happy Thanksgiving,
Marty (for Jenny, Misha, Joshua and Caleb)