I USED TO FEEL A LITTLE SORRY FOR Thanksgiving in Southern California when my family and I lived there. Since leaves don’t turn and pumpkins don’t get frosty, it’s tough to get Thanksgiving fever. The problem is compounded when stores jump from Halloween masks to Christmas trees. But at the risk of sounding a bit dated, I’d like to stand in defense of what I consider the greatest holiday of the year.
I recall, as a little barefoot boy, standing erect in my classroom and repeating the “Pledge of Allegiance” one Thanksgiving season. Our nation was at war, and times were hard. My teacher had lost her husband on the blood-washed shores of Normandy.
As we later bowed our heads for prayer, she wept aloud. I did too. All the class joined in. She stumbled through one of the most moving expressions of gratitude and praise that ever emerged from a soul plunged in pain. At that time in my young life, I fell strangely in love with Thanksgiving. Lost in sympathy and a boy’s pity for his teacher, I walked home very slowly that cool afternoon.
Although only a child, I had profound feelings of gratitude for my country, my friends, my school, my church, and my family. I swore before God that I would fight to the end to keep this land free from foes who would want to take away America’s distinctives and the joys of living in this good land. I have never forgotten my childhood promise. I never shall.
But there is no more profound sense of gratitude that we feel than that for our great salvation. We exclaim with the apostle Paul,
No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
May Thanksgiving arrive with forceful and throbbing impact upon us and our children. May we all, indeed, give thanks to God for the gift of His Son and our great, great salvation in Him.
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