NASHVILLE. Yesterday at church my good friend, Rice Broocks preached a powerful sermon that included brilliant exegesis, solid theology, practical application, and a reference to two of the greatest cartoon characters ever – Dick Dastardly and his canine sidekick Muttley. Only Rice would attempt to connect the dots from the Apostle Paul to Timothy to Dick Dastardly and Muttley. (“Rashin frashin Rick Rastardly!”)
In his sermon, “Gratefulness is Our Greatest Weapon,” Rice talked about how gratefulness protects our minds, our relationships, and our hearts. He said that unexpressed gratefulness is actually ungratefulness. This sermon was both inspiring and convicting. And it also took me back in time.
When our now adult sons were young, Deborah and I decided that we would not tolerate an entitlement attitude in our home. Our remedy? Teach our kids to be thankful. I am not sure how successful we were, but we sure tried to raise grateful sons.
Yesterday Rice reminded me of the main point that we tried to teach our kids, that entitlement cannot coexist with gratitude.
Entitlement says that parents, businesses, siblings, government, church, life, God, and Santa owe me something. And since I am owed, there is no reason to say thanks.
Thankfulness is like kryptonite to entitlement. Kills it on contact.
And that brings us to that American holiday, Thanksgiving Day. After a hundred years of American cities and communities declaring their own thanksgiving celebrations, in 1789 President George Washington proclaimed November 26 “as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours of ALMIGHTY GOD.”
Notice that the original official Thanksgiving Day was not about being generally thankful, but about specifically thanking ALMIGHTY GOD.
Recently Americans have become obsessed with removing all God references from the conversation lest we offend Bill Maher. With Thanksgiving we have taken that obsession to an absurd level, not only removing God but also removing the idea of thanks from Thanksgiving Day.
Increasingly Americans are calling the 4th Thursday of November, “Turkey Day” rather than Thanksgiving Day. Are we afraid that if we call it Thanksgiving, someone might accidentally thank God?
So now, rather than thanking God once a year for His gracious provision, we eat turkey and watch football.