Thanksgiving Sunday (U.S.A.)
I Thessalonians 5:16-18
Prop: A small bag with 5 kernels of popcorn or candy corn for each child
Good morning, girls and boys! I am happy, and thankful, to see you all here this morning! This-coming Thursday, people in The United States will be celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday. The traditional way to celebrate Thanksgiving is by eating a huge meal. It almost always includes turkey and gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, rolls, cranberry sauce, veggies and dessert--often pumpkin pie, and also many other specialties. Those preparing the meal for their loved ones often spend days in the kitchen cooking up special foods, and everyone is as stuffed as the turkey when the meal is done.
But before digging into the feast, people all over the country stop and give thanks for the many, many blessings God has given them in the past year, just like the Pilgrims did.
We all know the story of the first Thanksgiving. The first year in their new home was terribly difficult for the Pilgrims. They were not prepared for the harsh weather and their supplies did not last through the winter. People in their little group starved to death in that first year. If it weren't for the help they received from the Native Americans, they would have all died. So in thanks to God for their first harvest, and their new friends, the Pilgrims invited the Native Americans to dinner, and together they shared a feast.
The second winter, however, was also very difficult. Again, the Pilgrims did not have enough food. In fact, there were times when each member of the colony were only allowed 5 kernels of corn to eat for an entire day. Yet the people had faith that God would take care of them, no matter what, and they pulled through. Nobody died that second winter. And the harvest was huge! There was so much corn that the Pilgrims were able to help the Native Americans.
They held a second Thanksgiving feast, again inviting their new friends to come. Massasoit, the chief, came with his wife, several other chiefs, 120 braves and meat they had hunted. All sat down to a feast of 12 venison, 6 goats, 50 hogs and pigs, numerous turkeys, vegetables, grapes, nuts, plums, puddings and pies. But, to remind everyone of the hard times they had endured and all they had to be thankful for, the Pilgrims and their guests sat down to an empty plate. Then each person was given 5 kernels of corn. The 5 kernels of corn reminded the Pilgrims of all they had suffered the previous winter, and of how much they had to be thankful for that second Thanksgiving day.
I'm going to give each of you a little bag with 5 kernels of corn in it. Save it until Thursday. And then before your Thanksgiving meal, think of 5 things for which you are thankful. Maybe you would like to go around the table and put 5 kernels of corn on each person's plate, and everyone at your Thanksgiving feast could share their 5 thanksgivings before the meal. Or you could use the corn to help you say your good-night prayers. Whatever you decide, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving! And I want you to know that one of the things for which I am very thankful is you.
Let us offer our thanks to God now.
Good and Gracious God, There is so much for which to thank you! I'm sure we can all think of many more than 5 things. We know that all of the people and things that keep us safe and warm and happy come from you. All of the people we love and who love us. All of the beauty in the world. For our many blessings, Lord, we give you thanks and praise. Amen.