As we sit down to dinner this Thanksgiving, surrounded by mouth-watering dishes of every kind, let's remember those who will be going without this year. A staggering 30 percent of our neighbors are considered working poor. In a state with a population of 7 million, that means 2.1 million of us are struggling to put food on the table, not to mention the thousands who call our streets home.
Numbers like these seem insurmountable. But, you know what?
Our God is bigger than hunger and homelessness.
Thanksgiving was central to Old Testament worship. Sacrifice and offerings were to be made not grudgingly, but with thanksgiving. The psalmist valued a song of thanksgiving more than sacrifice. Thankfulness was expressed: for personal and national deliverance; for God’s faithfulness to the covenant; and for forgiveness. All creation joins in offering thanks to God.
The first harvest celebration was held in 1621. It was then William Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving and prayer to be shared by all the colonists and the neighboring Indians. It was not until October 3, 1789 that George Washington assigned Thursday, November 26, 1789, to be a day of national thanksgiving. In his proclamation Washington stated, "...recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer; to be observed by acknowledging, with grateful hearts, the many ... favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."
Thanksgiving is a natural element of Christian worship and is to characterize all of Christian life. Early Christians expressed thanks: for Christ’s healing ministry; for Christ’s deliverance of the believer from sin; for God’s indescribable gift of grace in Christ; and for the faith of fellow Christians.
A Thanksgiving Proclamation, spoken by Abraham Lincoln on October 3, 1863 observed that the last Thursday of November would be a day of "Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens."
He continued, "It has seemed to me fit and proper that God 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 as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens."
Psalm 100 A Psalm For Giving Thanks. 1Shout for joy to the LORD all the earth. 2Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. 3Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. 4Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. 5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
This Thanksgiving, because of donors and volunteers, we were able to serve over 1,200 households with a Thanksgiving meal they may have otherwise gone without. It is heartwarming and encouraging to see the impact a community can have when we come together with a common goal.
Through your support of Phoenix Rescue Mission, God transforming lives that in turn impact others. It's a ripple effect that reaches farther and impacts more lives than we can imagine - just like a wind becomes a storm, a flame becomes a wildfire, it's been God's method for change from the very beginning.
So, as we remember those who will go without also remember that you are a part of something big, something that is changing the face of homelessness and hunger in our state.
God bless you and Happy Thanksgiving.