Giving Thanks? It’s what we do. What we’ve always done.

The post that immediately follows says a bit about the history of Thanksgiving, picking up the thread in 1621 with the Pilgrims and the Wampanoags. They gave thanks together for a successful harvest.

But giving thanks for harvest is a practice that goes back much earlier. It’s as old as agriculture itself. In those times, by contrast to today, most people ate food they themselves had planted, grown, and harvested. Their experience of all this was direct and personal, and they saw evidence of God’s favor or anger in their (twofold relationship at the time) with the Earth: as resource or threat. In addition to giving thanks on a designated day or days each year, they would also give thanks for such grace much more frequently.

Psalm 104 (NIV) captures some of this spirit:

Praise the Lord, my soul.

Lord my God, you are very great;

   you are clothed with splendor and majesty.

2 The Lord wraps himself in light as with a garment;

   he stretches out the heavens like a tent

3     and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters.

He makes the clouds his chariot

   and rides on the wings of the wind.

4 He makes winds his messengers,

   flames of fire his servants.

5 He set the earth on its foundations;

   it can never be moved.

6 You covered it with the watery depths as with a garment;

   the waters stood above the mountains.

7 But at your rebuke the waters fled,

   at the sound of your thunder they took to flight;

8 they flowed over the mountains,

   they went down into the valleys,

   to the place you assigned for them.

9 You set a boundary they cannot cross;

   never again will they cover the earth.

10 He makes springs pour water into the ravines;

 it flows between the mountains.

11 They give water to all the beasts of the field;

   the wild donkeys quench their thirst.

12 The birds of the sky nest by the waters;

   they sing among the branches.

13 He waters the mountains from his upper chambers;

   the land is satisfied by the fruit of his work.

14 He makes grass grow for the cattle,

   and plants for people to cultivate—

   bringing forth food from the earth:

15 wine that gladdens human hearts,

   oil to make their faces shine,

   and bread that sustains their hearts.

16 The trees of the Lord are well watered,

   the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.

17 There the birds make their nests;

   the stork has its home in the junipers.

18 The high mountains belong to the wild goats;

   the crags are a refuge for the hyrax.

19 He made the moon to mark the seasons,

   and the sun knows when to go down.

20 You bring darkness, it becomes night,

   and all the beasts of the forest prowl.

21 The lions roar for their prey

   and seek their food from God.

22 The sun rises, and they steal away;

   they return and lie down in their dens.

23 Then people go out to their work,

   to their labor until evening.

24 How many are your works, Lord!

   In wisdom you made them all;

   the earth is full of your creatures.

25 There is the sea, vast and spacious,

   teeming with creatures beyond number—

   living things both large and small.

26 There the ships go to and fro,

   and Leviathan, which you formed to frolic there.

27 All creatures look to you

   to give them their food at the proper time.

28 When you give it to them,

   they gather it up;

when you open your hand,

   they are satisfied with good things.

29 When you hide your face,

   they are terrified;

when you take away their breath,

   they die and return to the dust.

30 When you send your Spirit,

   they are created,

   and you renew the face of the ground.

31 May the glory of the Lord endure forever;

   may the Lord rejoice in his works—

32 he who looks at the earth, and it trembles,

   who touches the mountains, and they smoke.

33 I will sing to the Lord all my life;

   I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.

34 May my meditation be pleasing to him,

   as I rejoice in the Lord.

35 But may sinners vanish from the earth

   and the wicked be no more.

Praise the Lord, my soul.

Praise the Lord.

Of course, in those times, the Psalms were not simply read, but sung. Here’s a modern rendition. If you’re old school, you might prefer a cantor.

Again, this post is really background and context for the post that follows. I hope you’ll read that as well. And I hope you’ll be blessed by the day.

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