…they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
This weekend Canadians celebrate thanksgiving, an officially secular holiday but one echoing a distinct mark of the Christian life: a thankful heart. Only by grace can our thanksgiving be disconnected from our circumstances, current events, the unsettling violence & chaos of the world. We are a thankful people not because our life on earth has been greatly improved (though it has), but because our eternal lives have been immeasurably transformed - infused with a lasting hope & a joy that enlightens us walking through the valley of the shadow of death. At the very centre of the great story, the “true myth” as Lewis/Tolkien would argue, is our great giving God.
Jesus gave up his life on the cross, gave hell to the devil, gave us an invitation to life, gave us new heart, gave us a renewed identity, and gave us His Holy Spirit. That is why the scriptures are filled with praise & thanksgivings. Even the Psalmists, who sensed the Way even before knowing his name, declared over & over…
- I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart (Psalm 9:1)
- We give thanks to you, O God (Psalm 75:1)
- your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation (Psalm 79:3)
- It is good to give thanks to the Lord (Psalm 92:1)
- give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! (Psalm 106:1)
THE FIRST CHURCH THANKSGIVING
Our reading through the Year of Biblical Literacy has us starting out the book of Acts this week, and how timely the description in chapter 2. When the Holy Spirit was given to the first Christians (Pentecost) the elements gave witness (rushing wind & fire), tongues testified (languages to reach the nations), gifts magnified (a cowardly follower preached the best sermon ever), and revival transformed an entire city.
The church responded with spiritual awe & wonder, but practically with a commitment to feasting on the Word and in fellowship. To breaking bread and radical generosity. And underlying all this, a heart of thanksgiving. “They received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God…” (Acts 2:46)
May we grow in our expression of gospel-motivated thanksgiving, and may God grant us favour with our neighbours, many of whom He has called to his banqueting table. As a foretaste of the great feast, let’s set a place for them at our tables this weekend.
For His glory & our city’s good,