Our Uzbek neighbors were intrigued by almost every aspect of our Thanksgiving celebration when we invited them to come to our home and share the traditional meal with us. They had never eaten turkey before… it was expensive and considered a delicacy. They had therefore never partaken of turkey gravy. The cranberry sauce that we had brought in our suitcases was brand new to them. And of course, they were not familiar with the distinctives of our national history that inspired the holiday.
But the aspect of our meal that surprised them at Thanksgiving (and every meal we shared with our local friends), was our family tradition of giving thanks to God for the food at the beginning of the meal. In their tradition, thanks was given to God, but only at the end of the meal.
“How can you give thanks for it at the beginning? You don’t even know whether the food is good or not!” I tried not to be insulted by this. I had worked hard on that meal and was pretty sure nobody was going to get sick as a result of eating it!
We took the tradition of praying before the meal for granted. I remember my grandfather blessing and giving thanks for every meal I ever ate in his home. Of course he prayed at the beginning of the meal!
When Paul wrote to the Philippians that he was giving thanks for them in all his remembrance of them and in every prayer for them, he was giving thanks at the beginning of their walk with the Lord. He went on to share how he could dare to do this. It was because he was “… confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Isn’t it wonderful that we can give thanks for each other, for the gifts that we each bring, for the image of Christ we each carry, even before he has completed his good work in us because he is faithful and will complete that work. Likewise, we can give thanks for his good work in our own lives.
How will you enjoy your Thanksgiving meal this year? For what and who will you give thanks to the Lord this Thanksgiving? Thank him also for the good work he is doing in all of our lives. We are thanking him for you today! Happy Thanksgiving!