Institutional First Baptist Church Weekly Sermon
Delivered By
Dr. E. G. Sherman, Jr
Delivered On
November 23, 2014 at 10:45 AM
Subject
The Significance of Thanksgiving
Description
Dr. E. G. Sherman, Jr. Sunday November 23, 2014
The Significance of Thanksgiving
"Enter into his gates with thanksgiving and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name” Ps. 100:4
The practice of thanksgiving occurred long before it 
was initiated by the Pilgrims in 1621. Using the Bible for 
documentation, the Ancient Israelites, upon crossing the 
Red Sea and seeing Pharaoh’s army being drowned, burst 
into a collective singing of Thanksgiving lead by Miriam. ( Ex. 
15:20 ). Since that time, the Jewish group has and continues 
to observe significant events in their historical struggles. An 
eclectic views of these Jewish events will be one of the 
dimensions in this sermon on the Significance of 
Thanksgiving. In the meantime, its multi talented son, 
David’s Book of Psalms will be tapped to undergird this 
2014 Thanksgiving sermon. It has been asserted that 
“The Psalms powerfully convey the feelings common to 
believers of all ages”. From that book, the 100th writing 
was selected to undergird the sermon entitled, the 
significance of Thanksgiving. Three lines of inquiry will 
be explored, namely: The Jewish Thanksgiving, The 
Pilgrim’s Thanksgiving, and The Contemporary American 
Thanksgiving. Each of these Thanksgiving festivities/ 
celebrations or events will be explored in its historical 
sequence. Accordingly, the Jewish Thanksgiving will now 
be highlighted. There are several events but only three 
of them are herein selected. The Passover is (... an eight day 
festivity, from the 15th through the 22nd of the Hebrew 
month of Nissan ). It is designed to commemorate the night 
when God sent the death angel who took the life of every 
first born Egyptian while sparing the sons in each household 
that had a blood mark on the door post. 
Hanukkah is the second celebration for inclusion in the 
Jewish festivities. It “...is celebrated with a series of rituals 
that are performed every day throughout the 8-day holiday.” 
Some of the activities are held within the family while 
others may be communal. “Hanukkah is not a Sabbath-like 
holiday, and there is no obligation to refrain for activities 
that are forbidden on the Sabbath.” The Book of Psalms is 
the third facet of the Jewish contribution to Thanksgiving 
for therein are found innumerable references to and calls for 
thanksgiving. As noted in the textual reference, an urgent 
call is uttered for thanksgiving along with the appropriate 
modality for entering his courts. ( Ps.100:4 ). 
Having given a synopsis of Thanksgiving with the 
Jewish context, the focus will next be directed to The 
Pilgrim’s Thanksgiving. That group “left Plymouth, England, 
on September 6, 1620 with its destination being The New 
World. It was in search of civil and religious liberty. Much to 
its dismay, the New World was filled with multiple 
challenges that included a vast wilderness, an unanticipated 
Indian population, and an uncultivated land. 
The Pilgrims first year in the New World was disastrous; 
the death rate was extremely high, the food supply was 
shrinking, and the crops were planted too soon and thereby 
killed by the late winter snow. Their only hope was 
manifested in the Indian’s benevolence that included 
raw food and grains for planting along with instruction 
on how and when to plant. 
The Pilgrims were grateful and complied with the 
guidelines for planting the next year. Their endeavor was 
reflected in the bountiful harvest that year. So thankful 
were the Pilgrims that they decided to have a time for 
thanksgiving. Hence they planned the day for prayer, a 
feast, and afternoon games. Remembering the helpfulness 
the Indians, the Pilgrims invited them to share in the 
first time of thanksgiving. The year was 1621 and every 
year thereafter Thanksgiving has be an annual event. 
“In 1789, following a proclamation issued by President 
George Washington, America celebrated its first Day of 
Thanksgiving to God under its new constitution. Almost 
a Century, President Abraham Lincoln, in 1863, set aside 
the last Thursday of November as a national Day of 
Thanksgiving. Years later, in 1941, Congress permanently 
established the fourth Thursday of each November as a 
national holiday. 
Having briefly reviewed the Pilgrim’s origin of a time 
for Thanksgiving, a somber question becomes what is the 
status of Thanksgiving in contemporary America? This 
question leads to the final consideration in this sermon 
entitled, The Significance of Thanksgiving. 
It is an unfortunate fact that the praising and 
thanksgiving commenced a secular pathway starting 
in the 1950's. At that time, America was rejoicing over its 
victory in World War II, thrilled about the National Interstate 
highway system connection the East with the West, the 
new communication known as the television, and the 
beginning of the mega shopping malls. Collectively, these 
realities, sadly, cause a change in the ideology of 
Thanksgiving to shift from praise to pleasure! Thanksgiving 
in America is viewed the most traveled weekend of the 
year, the long weekend from work, a three day vacation 
from school and other institutions of higher learning, 
the Macy parade, an abundance of foods with an array of 
beverages, the Loins football game, attending a theater to 
view a recently released production, maybe a communal 
worship or just a prayer/grace before the feast, and making 
plans for the Black Friday rush. 
In sum, the American Thanksgiving is increasingly more 
about pleasure than praise. Yet this nation’s inhabitants 
must, of necessity, become aware of the increasing 
apostasy that is gripping America. Is there is way to 
change this disastrous course? The answer is a 
resounding yes! It is multifaceted and includes: a return 
to sound Biblical teachings ( “...seek the kingdom of God: 
and all other things shall be added unto you” ) Luke 12:31, 
by “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together.../for 
worship/ Heb.10:25, by “casting all your cares upon him; for 
he careth for you” ( 1st Pet. 5:7 ), become familiar with and 
committed to the Book of Psalms - especially the 100th Book. 
Finally, take confidence in God’s promise found in the 
2nd Chron. 2:14 “If my people who are called by my name, 
shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and 
turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven 
and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” Amen!
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