TRAINING: When fairy tales and history are the same

Will was in his first year of college and invited a fellow student to join us for Thanksgiving. Inviting others in for Thanksgiving or Christmas or Sunday lunch is pretty normal for us. So Stefano agreed to join us for Thanksgiving. The day before Thanksgiving, Stefano’s mom, her sister, and her daughter surprised him by showing up at the college. Will, asked, “Can they come too?” So our crowd grew a little larger.

We have tried to apply the pattern of celebration in Deut. 16 to our own holidays:
1)    Celebrate together
2)    Honor the Lord
3)    Remember your history

Deuteronomy 16:9-12
Count off seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the standing grain. Then celebrate the Feast of Weeks to the LORD your God by giving a freewill offering in proportion to the blessings the LORD your God has given you. And rejoice before the LORD your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name–you, your sons and daughters, your menservants and maidservants, the Levites in your towns, and the aliens, the fatherless and the widows living among you. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt, and follow carefully these decrees.

Sometimes it is more difficult when others join in; sometimes it is easier. Either way, we have learned that if we can get through the awkward moments that the worthwhile moments will come.   I had planned to read the Thanksgiving story and so I did. Stefano and his family were not American citizens, so the story for them was fresh and interesting. When we finished reading they wanted to talk about it and discuss it. That was fun, their presence and their interest amplifying our own.

We celebrated with typical turkey and a table full of Patricia’s best.

We honored the Lord by asking each person to share an event from the year that caused them to give thanks for his goodness. Our guests happily participated.

Then I read the story of Thanksgiving from a book by John Brown, one of the early Pilgrims. I had chosen excerpts that demonstrated the hand of God in guiding and preserving that first group of brave men and women. We read the miraculous story of Tisquantum (Squanto), of their prayer for rain during a drought and how God answered, and of course, of the first Thanksgiving.
Stefano’s mom commented, “I have never heard these stories.” Unfortunately, she’s not the only one.

Today, these stories are being avoided in the education of our children. Even worse, they are ignored in the celebrations within our own Christian homes. We’ve got the turkey part, the football part, the family gathering, but we are leaving out our history and God’s place in it. If we don’t remember our history, our “holy days” will not be holy to the Lord but wholly to ourselves.

Let’s take thirty minutes this Thanksgiving and remember our history. Let’s marvel at the bravery of those who endured persecution, exile, oceans, plagues, starvation, and loss of loved ones in order to worship God freely.

“Every once in a while, the hand of God is easy to see, and for a brief moment, fairy tales and history are the same thing. This story is about one of those times.” So begins Eric Mataxas’ great little book Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving.
I recommend it to you.