November 23

Deuteronomy 26:1-11

“Then you, together with the Levites and the aliens who reside among you, shall celebrate with all the bounty that the Lord your God has given to you and to your house.” vs. 11

The Israelites, convinced that the God of their ancestors had directed them to cross the Jordan and take possession of the land, codified thanksgiving as a part of their written law. Each year after the harvest they would take a portion of the firstfruits of the land and return it to the altar of the Lord. And then together with all the people of the land (including the aliens), they would celebrate thanksgiving. Tomorrow everyone in our land, people of every faith and no faith at all, will be following our nation’s tradition and celebrate a feast that we call “Thanksgiving.”  It has become a significant holiday for us, but only some will be using the day to offer thanks to God for their material wealth and possessions, and even fewer will be setting aside an offering of “firstfruits” as a part of their celebration. It’s sad that so many miss that connection between gratitude and giving. Without the giving, Thanksgiving can easily become a symbol of excess and overindulgence, and gratitude is quickly swallowed up in the frenzied buying of Black Friday. It would be good for all of us to carve out time tomorrow for reflection on our many blessings and maybe even do some giving.

Thought for the Day: What are my firstfruits?

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