Giving Thanks for a New Kingdom
“Since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show attitude”
After suffering persecution for their faith and seeking a new land where they could prosper, the pilgrims set out on a perilous journey across the ocean in search of religious freedom. But their search for a new life would prove costly. Encountering a harsh winter led to an epidemic of disease. It is estimated that up to 78 percent of the women who arrived on the Mayflower died the first winter. In spite of their trials, the still felt compelled in the fall of 1621 to celebrate the end of a successful harvest by having a three-day event to express their gratitude for God’s provision. However, it was not until 1789 when President George Washington, at the request of Congress, declared November 26 to be a day of national thanksgiving to celebrate the formation of the Constitution and the establishment of a new nation. While it was celebrated, it did not become an official national holiday until 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln signed a declaration officially making the last Thursday of November to be the designated day for national thanksgiving.
Even though Thanksgiving Day was established to be a day of celebration for God’s care and blessing upon the nation, in scripture we find an even greater reason to celebrate, the establishment of God’s unshakable kingdom. Throughout the book of Hebrews, the writer has been contrasting Israel’s life under the old covenant and the new life we have in Christ. Because of their sin, Israel did not enjoy the full promises of God and as a result never fully experienced the joy of their salvation offered by God. But where the old covenant, with its priest and perpetual sacrifices fail, Christ prevailed through his final sacrifice for our sin. Because of his triumph over death and sin, Christ establishes a new kingdom, one that is eternal and governed by righteousness.
As Christians we have every reason to be thankful, we have the promise of a kingdom that is unshakable and eternal. A kingdom where righteousness prevails. This kingdom does not originate from earth but originates from the throne room of heaven. As we think of earthly kingdoms and nations, we are reminded that they are part of the “things which can be shaken as of created things” (vs 27). But in Christ we have a kingdom that cannot be shaken and will remain. If the Pilgrims saw the need to be thankful for an earthly nation, how much more should we be thankful for the kingdom that is not based upon the governance of flawed and fickle mankind, but one ruled by the perfect and unchangeable Christ (13:8). But this thanksgiving is not in word only. Rather we are to express our thanksgiving through our service and worship of God. Thanksgiving, worship, service, and obedience are inseparably interwoven. To be thankful to God is expressed when we express our devotion to God in every aspect of life. It is to see and respond to life differently.
As we gather as family and friends to give thanks for the nation that was established, let us also express our gratitude for the eternal kingdom that God will establish through Christ. For our hope does not lie in the future of our nation, but in the future of his kingdom.