Another Thanksgiving Day has been celebrated and, overall, we have focused on how much we have and what we are thankful for. As one of America’s leading theologians and pastors, Jonathan Edwards’ Thanksgiving Day sermon in 1739 focused on what we should give in light of what Jesus Christ has given us.
His scripture text for that day was Luke 8:2-3 (ESV):
and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.
Usually we don’t hear Thanksgiving Day sermons about demons or demon possessed people! Anything to interrupt our self-absorption is not too popular. The only things we want to contemplate on such a day are food, football, and the Black Friday bargains we hope to gain. Though the day is one designed to evoke thanksgiving to God, it is usually just a day about feeling satisfied in our own accomplishments and position in the world (see what Jesus said about that in Luke 12:16-21).
Edwards’ point is that Thanksgiving Day must move our focus beyond ourselves – as if we have “arrived”! – to the gifts of Jesus Christ to us, and how we ought to respond in gratitude for His gifts.
Perhaps we shouldn’t ask “Did you have a Happy Thanksgiving?” Perhaps we should be asking “How did your Thanksgiving to Jesus Christ overflow to serve Him and those He has called us to reach in His Name?”
You can read more about Edwards’ sermon here.