Weekly Sermons
Delivered By
Dr. E. G. Sherman, Jr
Delivered On
November 18, 2018 at 10:45 AM
The Significance of Thanksgiving

The Significance of Thanksgiving 

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name” Psalm 100:4

The practice of thanksgiving occurred long before it
was initiated by the Pilgrim in 1621. Using the Bible for
documentation, the Ancient Israelites, upon crossing the
Red Sea and seeing Pharaoh’s 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 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
2018 Thanksgiving sermon. It has been asserted that
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“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
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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. ( Psalm 100:4 ).
Having given a synopsis of Thanksgiving with the
Jewish context, the focus will next be directed to The

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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
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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 the 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

p. 6
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
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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:
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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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