Published on November 1st, 2015 | by Tony Felich0
Pastor’s Corner November 2015
The following was published in our monthly newsletter, the Redeemer Report.
Thanksgiving for the Harvest to Come
The ramp up to Thanksgiving means dropping temperatures, beautiful fall colors, and time in the outdoors hunting for me and many other sportsmen. Thanksgiving holiday seems relatively untouched by the rampant commercialism of our times. First there’s a huge push for Halloween costumes and candy then immediately into the silly Christmas sales push. Thanksgiving’s purity seems somewhat intact, don’t you think?
For most Americans, Thanksgiving conjures images of pilgrims having a huge feast with native Americans in the early 1600’s. The writings of Bradford and Winslow from that time period reveal various annual festivals and feasts celebrating a kind of thanksgiving holiday in colonial America. All of their thanksgiving gatherings included overt references to gratefulness toward the God of Scripture. Thanksgiving holiday as we know it, has been celebrated as a federal holiday every year since 1863, when, during the Civil War, President Lincoln declared a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens“, to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November.
Over the years many hymns have been written to give thanks to God in conjunction with Fall time harvest and have become seasonal songs to one degree or another. Perhaps the most well known is Henry Alford’s 1844 classic hymn “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come.” This song magnificently begins with thankful harvest time praise to God in the opening stanza-
Come, ye thankful people, come, raise the song of harvest home; all is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied;
come to God’s own temple, come, raise the song of harvest home.
As the hymn progresses it moves from praise to petition, asking God to gather, cleanse and sanctify His people. Alford shifts from the scenery of an actual harvest of earthly crops to picturing God’s spiritual harvesting of souls for Himself. The third stanza reminds us of His sure return as a harvester in order to motivate our piety and devotion to Him-
For the Lord our God shall come, and shall take the harvest home;
from the field shall in that day all offenses purge away, giving angels charge at last in the fire the tares to cast; but the fruitful ears to store in the garner evermore.
The hymn reaches the final pinnacle of praise singing for Jesus to return and bring glory to Himself through the final maturity and glorification of His people-
Even so, Lord, quickly come, bring thy final harvest home;
gather thou thy people in, free from sorrow, free from sin, there, forever purified, in thy presence to abide; come, with all thine angels, come,
raise the glorious harvest home.
Thanksgiving is not just about God’s past blessings. Thanksgiving is a way to set our minds right about what is sure to come in Christ! When we give thanks, we are preparing for the Lord’s return. Thanksgiving is part of God’s process of preparing our hearts for His work and final consummation. So indeed – “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!” – Psalm 100:4
In the Lamb,
Pastor Tony Felich