On November 25, 2021, the United States of America will celebrate Thanksgiving. This tradition has been passed on to other countries especially by Christian missionaries. The member churches of the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches would usually celebrate Thanksgiving on any Sunday in November.
The celebration of Thanksgiving is not just an American tradition. Actually, it is a biblical tradition. The Thanksgiving celebration is connected to the harvest festival in the Old Testament.
In Exodus 23, God commanded to have three annual festivals. Two of them are related to agriculture. Exodus 23:16 says, “Celebrate the Festival of Harvest with the firstfruits of the crops you sow in your field. Celebrate the Festival of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in your crops from the field.”
What lessons can we learn from this festivals as we celebrate Thanksgiving this month?
First, the Festival of Harvest reminds us that everything belongs to God, and we must thank God for everything that we have.
The symbol of bringing our firstfruits to God is an acknowledgment that we have received these blessings because of God alone. This reminds us to thank God first.
In the New Testament, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the foreshadowing of this festival. Paul said that Jesus is the firstfruit that was offered. Later, the arrival of the Holy Spirit to the followers of Jesus Christ happened on the ending of the Festival of Harvest which is the Pentecost. This is a another reminder for us to thank God for the salvation that we have received.
Second, the Festival of Ingathering reminds us to look back on what happened in the past, and thank God for it.
This festival was held at the end of the agricultural year when the grapes and olives were harvested in Israel. This was the time to officially thank God for all the provision during the year, and and also pray for the upcoming rainy season during planting time.
As we have our Thanksgiving celebration this year, let us not forget to thank God for what happened in the past that brought us to where we are now. Let us also commit the coming year to God, and ask for His blessings and mercies.
Rev. Francis Neil G. Jalando-on
Director, Office of Communications