Happy Thanksgiving to all of you in the US, and a belated Happy Thanksgiving to those of you in Canada. Tomorrow is just another normal school day for us here in France. We had our big November holiday on November 11. But the faculty at IFLE, the language school, are really cool and they understand that Thanksgiving is important to the Americans, so they have us make a big deal out of it. Tomorrow evening there is a big Thanksgiving dinner, planned, cooked, and served by the American students, with a Thanksgiving program to follow. I don’t know what my classmates have cooked up, but I am sure it will be good. Bekki and I get to help serve it.
Friday night Vespers is a special Thanksgiving program also presented by the IFLE students. They asked me to speak for it (I was told to keep it short, so it is only about 10 minutes), so along with music in French and English will be my meditation thought in French. I have included the English translation of it below, because…drumroll please…they are supposed to be filming this and live streaming it on the internet so family and friends in the States and Canada can see it. It is supposed to be archived as well so you can watch it on a live tape delay, ie. at your leisure. The website is http://www.egliseducampus.org I checked it out, and don’t let the French intimidate you, there is a tab that says video, and that is exactly what it is a link to their videos. The program starts at 7:30 pm our time, so 1:30 pm east coast to 10:30 am west coast. Hope some of you get to see it.
Ten days ago we got to visit Gruyère, Switzerland. Although you may not have heard of it before you probably have eaten some of their products. Gruyère is the home to Gruyère cheese, and you guessed it, the Cailler chocolate factory. Bekki was on cloud 63 (much higher than cloud 9). And, as promised, they have a room where you can literally eat all the chocolate you want, they have samples of every kind of chocolate they make. It was pretty cool, so I included a few pictures of Bekki at the chocolate factory as well.
Happy Sabbath to everyone!
In the United States the Thanksgiving Holiday is very important for many reasons.
It is the start of the Holiday Season, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. Beginning with Thanksgiving and until just after the New Year there are lots of parties and social gatherings. It is also the time when families are together. There is lots of love and good feeling for all.
Thanksgiving is a mobile holiday, that means that although it is always on the fourth Thursday of November, the date changes each year. The days around Thanksgiving are also the busiest travel days of the year for Americans. Around 40 million people will travel to be with their families this year.
Thanksgiving is also the day preceding “Black Friday”. In the US Black Friday is the biggest sale day of the year. The day after Thanksgiving the big stores open their doors as early as 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning. There are lots of sales and people start lining up as early as 2 in the morning, or earlier. It is called Black Friday because it is the day the stores hope to turn their bottom line from red to black.
Before Thanksgiving the children often perform plays. They wear costumes of the Pilgrims and Indians and present the story of the first Thanksgiving. Their parents are always very proud to see them on the stage.
Each family has its own traditions. Sometimes a family will have a special project or a special game they play on Thanksgiving. Those that live in the country may go for a walk or bike ride, but the most important thing is that they are together.
There are of course other popular traditions. There is always a special meal. Almost everyone has a roast turkey, or maybe a roast vegi-turkey. We often eat mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, vegetables and pie, especially my favorite, pumpkin pie with whipped cream.
And of course, football. Most guys watch the two games. There are two teams who play every Thanksgiving, the Dallas Cowboys, America’s Team, and the Detroit Lions. It is a grand tradition.
One year, my wife, who doesn’t like football, told me, “If you are going to watch football, I am not going to work in the kitchen all day to prepare a fancy meal.” So she didn’t fix the vege-turkey, the mashed potatoes, the green beans. But my mother-in law, who loved me, still made my pumpkin pie. Anyway, Rebecca decided to order a pizza from Papa Murphy’s for dinner. It was an extra large with vegetables in the shape of a turkey. Since then we have had a new tradition in our home, The Thanksgiving Pizza.
But the most important tradition has to do with what Thanksgiving means. That is to say, give thanks to God. So, before dinner we share together those things we are thankful for. We are grateful for our families, our children, our homes, our health, love, and life. And we always thank God for our Savior Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, His protection and His love.
All these are good things to be thankful for. In fact in the Psalms David tells us:
“It is good to praise the Lord and make music to Your Name, O Most High.”
“Give thanks to the Lord, for His good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords.
His love endures forever.”
It is good to praise our Savior. Life, love, faith, and hope all come from God. It is good to recall all the blessings that God gives us.
In the Bible also find these verses.
Ephesians 5:19, 20
“…speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Did you notice the words, “everything”, “always” and “in all circumstances” in these texts?
Paul tells us to give thanks to God, but everything, always and in all circumstances.
I think it is very easy to give thanks to God when things are going well. But it is very difficult to do this when things are not going well in our lives.
How do I praise God when I cannot find a job?
How do I praise God when I am sick, or my child or my spouse is ill?
How do I praise God when I am alone, with no family?
How do I praise God when I am hungry, thirsty and cold?
But, Paul tells us, everything, always in all circumstances. Why?
Because Paul knows a secret. He knows the secret to happiness. And the secret is not money, jobs, not even our health or family.
I know lots of people who are very happy, and they have very little money, or no family or are ill. But, they are happy because they follow Paul’s counsel. They have the spirit of thanksgiving.
This spirit is a gift from God. It is the secret of happiness. Even when all is bad in your life, you can still have the spirit of thanksgiving.
In fact, it is when all is going badly in your life that it is most important to have this spirit of thanksgiving, because it will lift us up. When we praise God our nervous system releases neurotransmitters, adrenaline and serotonin and we feel better.
Yes, when we remember all that God has done for us, we forget our pain. It is true! That is why Paul told us to “Rejoice always”. And if we forget to praise God and just pity ourselves, our life will be truly miserable.
Someone may be thinking, “No one knows my life, no one knows my pain, my suffering, I have no reason to praise God.”
That is not true. Everyone has at least one reason to praise God. That reason is Jesus. Even if we have nothing, we can have Jesus. He will be our family, our friend, our life. And He promised eternal life with Him, for all those who accept it. That is the greatest gift.
Everyday should be Thanksgiving.
“…always give thanks to God the Father for everything.”
For those of you new to our blog, read about us and our upcoming mission to Africa in the “About Us” page, then there is a “Timeline” page that tells you where we will be this year, and finally a “Definitions” page that explains some terms that may be unfamiliar to some of you. Also check out the links to other Mission Hospitals to find other missionary blogs.
– Scott Gardner