Weekly Devotionals – 30 November 2020

What a year it has been! For many, it has been a year of great difficulties and hardships. It’s easy to focus on our problems in such times, but is it possible to maintain an attitude of thankfulness in the midst of hardships? This past week, the holiday of Thanksgiving was celebrated in America. There are lessons we can learn with regard to the origins and implementation of this holiday that can prove instructive to people of all nations. Here are three personalities I would like to introduce in this devotional that will give perspective and meaning to this message.
 
1) William Bradford led approximately 100 pilgrims to the America shores in the year 1620 in search of economic and religious freedoms. Within the first year, they lost more than half their crew while facing harsh winter conditions. The first Harvest Celebration was celebrated in 1621 between the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians. It was a mutual effort which resulted in both groups coming together to feast and give thanks for a fruitful harvest. This was the first Thanksgiving!
 
2) Abraham Lincoln officially declared Thanksgiving to be a national holiday in the year 1863 which was right in the midst of America’s Civil War. This was amazing when considering what the nation was going through. It was also amazing that it took approximately 240 years before Thanksgiving became a national holiday.
 
3) Sarah Josepha Hale was a writer, poet, and respected advocate for women’s issues. Sarah Josepha Hale spent 36 years lobbying congress, senators, and politicians to get Thanksgiving recognised as a celebrated national holiday. She successfully persuaded the administration of Abraham Lincoln to do so during America’s darkest days. Through her persistence, she became known as the “Mother of Thanksgiving”.
 
This was not done in peacetime, but during the horrific period known as the Civil War. In the midst of tragedy and conflict, America found common ground where they were able to give thanks – a recognition that perhaps united the nation more than that which divided.
 
There was another interesting twist to this story. Sarah Josepha Hale was the author of the children’s nursery rhyme, “Mary had a Little Lamb”, which was written in 1827. This immediately provoked me to think of another Mary who gave birth to a “Little Lamb” in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago.
 
Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. (Luke 1:30-31).
 
This Little Lamb would one day become the means where the peace between God and man would be established.
 
Sarah Josepha Hale began her appeals to congress to have a recognised Thanksgiving holiday the same year she penned her famous nursery rhyme. To me, the message is clear – Jesus, as the Lamb of God, is the answer to all of man’s ills. The early settlers and their hosts recognised this as they gave thanks for God’s protection, provision, and blessing. Abraham Lincoln recognised this while in the midst of a divisive war as he established a Day of Thanksgiving.
 
For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, (Ephesians 2:14).
 
What about us? Are we thankful people? Are we thankful for the Lamb who took away all our sins? Are we thankful even in the midst of all our hardships, and apparent enmity amongst people that we see taking place around us? May the following words of William Bradford, where he commemorated the challenging period he and others endured, be our words and testimony in going forward.
 
“Just as one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone unto many”.
 
This is how we, as a church, can become “The Light of Christ Everywhere”. We, at Lighthouse Evangelism, have so much to be thankful for!