What Does Thanksgiving Mean to You?

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ

What does Thanksgiving mean to you?

A little girl might say, “It means a big turkey dinner with mashed potatoes and gravy and green bean casserole.  And you can’t forget pumpkin pie.”  I think we all agree with her.  Who does not welcome and enjoy a good dinner?  I think the attendance at the Prime Time Dinner proves this.

A young man might say, “Thanksgiving means football.”  I guess he’s right too.  Football in most homes is part of the day’s celebration – or the day after.  “Go Hawks!  Beat the Cornhuskers!”

To others Thanksgiving means an extra day off, it means a day to travel home, it means a day to spend with family.  Still yet, for others, Thanksgiving means harvest – grain bins full, combines retired for the year, and apple baskets full.

As I write this letter, there is an apple sitting on my desk.  It is left over from this weekend’s Basics of the Faith class (20-some people attend).  If you were here, I would ask, “Isn’t this apple beautiful?”  What color!  A swirl of delicious red and granny-smith green wash the apple.  Who mixed the paints, who handled the brush to give such color to this apple?  God!

God, in His infinite love and wisdom, has provided through the unfailing laws of nature for the growth, sweetness, coloring, and beautifying of all the products of the fields.  This apple is but one of many harvests.

For a meal nutritious and a mean battle on the gridiron, for time at our home or a welcoming home, for a yearly full harvest and daily bread given, we have so much to praise God.

Praise then, is the great meaning of Thanksgiving.  God, our heavenly Father, sends us every good gift.  From His bountiful hand come our daily mercies.  We should praise Him every day.

At our Thanksgiving table we break the bread that we receive from the altar of God, from the Thanksgiving Eve service, and we go around the table to share our thanksgiving and praise for God.  Each year, I am thankful for my wife, my children, my family and the opportunity to serve as pastor at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Iowa City, Iowa.

This past weekend you showed your thankfulness for me.  I received so many nice cards, letters, notes and gifts.  Thank you for them.  They were encouraging and edifying.  That is what Thanksgiving means – to give thanks and praise to God.

“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!” (Psalm 150:6)

Rev. Brent Hartwig