By Bishop Michael Goings
I want to address an alarming issue that has been taking place for quite a few decades. It is something that has steadily grown in both scope and significance in our culture, so much so that the overwhelming majority of Americans have been unknowingly lured into it. Historically speaking, it was our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln, who by presidential decree, made Thanksgiving an official American holiday on October 3, 1863, during the Civil War. The date of the actual celebration would be on the last Thursday in November. This presidential decree has not been rescinded to this present time.
My aim today is to consider why we have (for the most part) allowed this very essential holiday to be trivialized and minimized to, regrettably, being just a day designated on the calendar to be observed without any or little veneration to the One who it was created for. There are perhaps quite a few reasons why the Thanksgiving holiday has been downsized and relegated to a place of insignificance in the minds of far too many people. I will only consider a few of these common and primary reasons.
I can clearly remember when this attack on Thanksgiving commenced over 40 years ago through what I have termed as commercialism and greed. I recall that way back then, some of the merchants started putting up Christmas items and signs not long after Halloween. Though this disregard for Thanksgiving started small, it continued to increase every year until it had completely overshadowed and swallowed up most advertisements and sections in the stores and supermarkets that once promoted the observance of Thanksgiving. I was certainly not the only one who was alarmed by this intentional strategy to displace and diminish the Thanksgiving season. Quite a few others, some with greater notoriety and influence than I possessed, voiced their opposition and disapproval to what was happening to the Thanksgiving observance. However, due to the fact that greed and commercialism and the love of money rules the day in a materialistic culture and in corporate America that only sees profit and not principles, the opposition and outcry fell on deaf ears.
Sandwiched Between Hallowe’en and Christmas
I will never forget a trip I made to Zimbabwe that is located in the Southern part of the continent of Africa. To be exact, it is one of the countries on the extreme south of the continent. Only South Africa is further south than Zimbabwe on the African continent. We had been given our seat assignments and there I was sandwiched right in the middle of the two men who were my travelling and missionary partners on this journey.
The flight from J. F. Kennedy International Airport was going to take from nine to eight and a half hours on this 747 jumbo jet to our half-way spot in London’s Heathrow Airport. However, there was one glaring problem – we were all big and tall men. I was the smallest of the three. I was cramped and sandwiched between my travelling comrades. Thank God for a very observant and considerate flight attendant who saw the problem and immediately took some action to solve it by reassigning the bigger of the three of us to another seat on the upper level of this jumbo jet.
Like I was on that jumbo jet before the flight attendant remedied the problem, Thanksgiving is being rendered to a state of complete triviality because of commercialism, greed, and the fact that it is sandwiched between Hallowe’en and Christmas. Due to the money that these two holidays generate through the products and merchandise that they sell, it is highly unlikely that the season of Thanksgiving will ever recover or regain its place of importance to the consumer or in the culture it warrants. This, of course, is to our great loss as a nation.
How Much Blame Must Christians Shoulder for Thanksgiving’s Demise
If the death knell is beginning to ring due to the death rattle that is coming from the throat of Thanksgiving, how much blame must be laid at the door of Christians and the church? After all, if any citizens in this nation should be leading the protest and outcry against the materialistic attack on Thanksgiving, it stands to reason that it should be Christians.
If anyone has a reason to give thanks, it should be us. We are the ones who are the beneficiaries of God’s sovereign Hand on America in both a spiritual and materialistic way. We are the ones who should be thankful for the right to assemble, freedom of speech, the right to protest, the freedom of the press, the right to bear arms, and quite a few others that we often take for granted.
Are we guilty as followers of Christ for capitulating without standing our ground and fighting back? Even worse, are we guilty that due to our materialistic and covetous desires and practices that we are conspiring with the enemy and committing spiritual treason? At the end of the day, each of us must prove whose side we are on in this clash between the Christian world-view and a secular world-view. The matter of Thanksgiving is just one of the issues that we are confronted with in this war of light against darkness, truth against lies, and man’s ways against God’s ways.
I pray that you will be on the winning side that will assuredly and ultimately triumph.
That side, of course, is led and championed by none other than our Commander-in-Chief, Jesus Christ, Who never lost a battle.