Thanksgiving and Vocation

Thanksgiving and Vocation November 23, 2023

“Why are you thanking God?” says the aggrieved father at the Thanksgiving.  “You should be thanking me!  I’m the one that worked to put food on this table!”

I’ve heard that on some TV show or movie.  (Can anyone identify the source?)

We are right to thank God for our Thanksgiving feast and for all of our other blessings through the year, even though they come to us by means of ordinary human beings.  This is because Thanksgiving has to do with vocation.

Luther explains that in his explanation of the First Commandment in the Large Catechism (para. 26-27) [my bolds]:

For even though otherwise we experience much good from men, still whatever we receive by His command or arrangement is all received from God. For our parents, and all rulers, and every one besides with respect to his neighbor, have received from God the command that they should do us all manner of good, so that we receive these blessings not from them, but, through them, from God. For creatures are only the hands, channels, and means whereby God gives all things, as He gives to the mother breasts and milk to offer to her child, and corn and all manner of produce from the earth for nourishment, none of which blessings could be produced by any creature of itself.

Therefore no man should presume to take or give anything except as God has commanded, in order that it may be acknowledged as God’s gift, and thanks may be rendered Him for it, as this commandment requires. On this account also these means of receiving good gifts through creatures are not to be rejected, neither should we in presumption seek other ways and means than God has commanded. For that would not be receiving from God, but seeking of ourselves.

These “channels” for God’s blessings are vocations.  Luther goes on to say, in his explanation of the Fourth Commandment, that “through [civil government], as through our parents, God gives to us food, house and home, protection and security.”

So it’s appropriate on Thanksgiving to thank the aggrieved father.  Or, like Bob Cratchet in the Christmas Carol thanking his tight-fisted boss Ebenezer Scrooge as the “founder of the feast,” despite his wife’s objections.  And to be thankful for our country.  As well as those whose hands prepared the meal.  And the farmers, turkey ranchers, truck drivers, warehouse workers, grocery employees, and everyone else who made your feast possible.

Appreciate them as “channels” of the love of God.


Photo by Monstera Production: via Pexels


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