By Ian Robinson, Major
We began celebrating Thanksgiving a few months after we first arrived in the U.S., over 31years ago. Throughout the day people would ask, “How do you celebrate Thanksgiving in England?” Their first mistake was to assume that England included Scottish, Irish and Welsh people. Their second mistake was to assume that whatever happened in the U.S. must happen everywhere in the world. On the Fourth of July we would be asked, “What do you do in England on the Fourth of July?” to which we would reply, “The same as we did on the third of July.” Then we’d tell them that we lost the War of Independence, thank you very much for reminding us.
It didn’t take long, however, for us to embrace Thanksgiving and all that comes with it. We spent many delightfully chaotic Thanksgiving dinners at the home of Bill and Lenore Gordon with their children, mothers, dogs and anyone else who happened to walk by. Then we joined in the celebration at Rick and Cheryl Sparks’ house, becoming part of their huge extended family. Later on we had dinner at our own house, often inviting friends from countries where Thanksgiving was not celebrated. That was when I discovered the secret recipe for my legendary sweet potato and sausage stuffing, which has now been prepared and served on four continents.
One of the most enduring and best loved “contemporary” songs, a.k.a. “plastic choruses,” is “Give Thanks.” Recorded in 1986 by up and coming worship leader Don Moen on one of the bestselling Christian albums of all time, it has become a standard in worship services all over the world.
In 1978, the composer, Henry Smith, returned from the Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Va., to his hometown, Williamsburg, where he struggled to find work and suffered from a degenerative eye disease that would eventually leave him legally blind. One Sunday morning, in the midst of his despair, he heard a sermon on 2 Corinthians 8:9: For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, he quickly penned this song:
Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because He’s given
Jesus Christ, His Son
And now let the weak say, “I am strong,”
Let the poor say, “I am rich,”
Because of what the Lord has done for us.
© 1986 Integrity’s Hosanna! Music
It was first performed in his home church where a military couple heard it and took it with them to Germany. Through a remarkable chain of events it reached Integrity’s Hosanna! Music where Don Moen’s recording made it famous. Smith went on to write over 100 worship songs and now runs a successful recording studio in Mechanicsville, Va., with his wife.
How are things for you this Thanksgiving? Are you facing a difficult trial? Is there a seemingly insurmountable obstacle in your life? Are you struggling to find a job, or experiencing problems in your relationships? Are you concerned for the health of a loved one, or the prodigal wandering of a son or daughter? Whatever it is, the answer is to give thanks. Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thess. 5:18). That’s the secret. Notice two things. First, it says in all circumstances. That means good or bad, up or down, rejoicing or hurting. Second, it is God’s will for us to give thanks in all circumstances. So, when we don’t, we place ourselves outside of his will!
I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving, and pray that as you give him thanks he will bless you and lift you up. And if you happen to be in Corona on Thanksgiving Day, stop by our daughter’s house and I’ll share with you my sweet potato and sausage stuffing.