Thanksgiving is one of those last holidays that we can still celebrate with our non-Messianic family and friends. For most of us, Christmas is a no-go because of all the syncretism. Easter is also a no-go, because of the ham and paganism. Thanksgiving is that one last winter holiday that lets us be normal for a day and just hang out with everyone. Why then, do we Messianics get a sad, longing-for-something feeling every year when turkey day comes around? Here’s my take on why:
#1. We wish people would all celebrate God’s festivals like they celebrate Thanksgiving
How cool is it that all the stores are closed for Thanksgiving and everyone goes to celebrate with family and friends? Wouldn’t it be great if everyone did this for Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot? We long for the the Messianic kingdom where everyone will come and worship the Lord together (Isaiah 66:23).
#2. It’s just Sukkot two months late
Thanksgiving is thought to be a celebration of Sukkot. The Pilgrams learned about it while living with Sephardic Jews in Holland after leaving England but before coming to America. These Puritans believed in replacement theology and thought they were the new Israel. Leaving the old world was to them like the exodus, so celebrating Sukkot made sense since it is meant to remind us of the booths the children of Israel lived in after leaving Egypt. Sukkot is also a harvest celebration and thus it made sense to celebrate and thank God for all He’d given them. Why is this a problem? Well, Sukkot was a month and a half ago. It’s not even fall anymore, and I’m surrounded by snow! God said to celebrate Sukkot at a certain time- Tishrei 15 to 22. Why would we choose to change that?
#3. There’s too much commercialism
We love the emphasis on giving thanks to God, but loath the Black Friday, commercialized, marketing, greed-filled, Christmas-shopping ugliness that is strapped onto Thanksgiving like an atomic bomb taped onto a little teddy bear. Giving thanks is supposed to result in contentedness, not greed enough to get people robbed in parking lots and trampled to death as they mob into a store. To be fair, many others besides Messianics feel this way about the shopping aspect of this weekend and wish it could be different.
So what then shall we do? Do we write off Thanksgiving like we did for Christmas? I think for many of us, the answer will be no. In fact, I used to get slightly annoyed at Messianics who complained about Thanksgiving. I think many of us will find Thanksgiving to be an opportunity to encourage others toward the good aspects of the holiday- to be a light in the darkness. If we don’t enter in with our families and friends, how will they ever see the light of Messiah? Let’s take every opportunity to show those around us the love and truth of our Father.