The first Thanksgiving
Thoughts of the Thanksgiving holiday call up images of large, happy gatherings of folk being bountifully fed; of gratitude geing expressed to God for the great blessings He has bestowed on man. The Pilgrims, celebrating the first Thanksgiving in New England, felt touched by the Lord's provision and protection that had guided them through the Exodus experience of sailing to the New Worlds and settling Plymouth Colony.
But one remembers, too, anothr feast of even deeper significance. A vastly greater assemblage of people were fed and sustained through a deific outpouring of love.
In the accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, Christ Jesus, starting with only a meager few loaves and fish, turned to God and provided food for a multitude of 5,000 men, with women and children besides. Was this just a magic act on a grand scale? And what was the value of just one meal to these people who would surely be hungry the next day as well? What is its value to us?
Seeing beyond hungry people, Jesus was feeding empty hearts by teaching the nature of God, divine Love. He was illustrating Love's eternal nourishing of its offspring, man; proving that, as the image of God, man can never be separated from the Fathe's infinite bounty. To us today the incident reveals the Christ, the bread of Life, God's divine manifestation, as always present to feed the spiritually receptive heart.
In those stirring moments preceding the feast, Jesus gave thans to God before the abundance appeared. Wasn't his boldness in giving thanks in the face of such scant provision just waht was needed to break the mesmerism of lack, of the belief in separation from God, good? He knew with granitic conviction that God, being Love, can't help giving: Love must love. And that resulted in a feeding of the throng.
Just as it's natural for God to love, it's natural for us to be grateful, as Jesus showed. Gratitude is a form of love, and Love is our true Soul. Hence gratitude is natural and noble in us. Praise for God is the Bible's predominant tone, for "every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights . . . ." n1 Gratitude is also the orientation of Christian Science. The Discoverer and Founder of this Science, Mary Baker Eddy, writes, "While no offering can liquidate one's debt of gratitude to God, the fervent heart and willing hand are not unknown to nor unrewarded by Him." n2
n1 James 1:17;
n2 Miscellaneous Writings,m p. xi.
It's right to be grateful for material benefits received -- the loaves and fish. But we go higher as we reserve our deepest gratitude for our most precious possessions: the speritual qualities god expresses in us. Would not our lives be barren without vitality, intelligence, dominion, and joy?
And while we're actively expressing gratitude on Thanksgiving Day -- and every day -- lest we fell burdened by doing all the thanking, let us remember this perhaps startling thought: In a certain kind of way, God is grateful to us! He loves and appreciates every individual, spiritural manifesting of His nature. The Bible says it well: "We love him because he first loved us." n3
n3 I John 4:19.
DAILY BIBLE VERSE This day is holy unto the Lord your God; mourn not, nor weep. Nehemiah 8:9