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Thursday
Nov222012

Fasting or Feasting? A Thanksgiving Day Meditation

Everyone knows, of course, that the pilgrims established a feast, invited the Indians and the whole community, and all for the purpose of giving thanks to God for his gracious provisions.  But did you know that in decreeing a feast, they were acting according to a long tradition among the people of God?A tradition that gives priority to feasts—joyous communal eating and drinking—over against fasting and penitential self-affliction?
When the church is healthy she multiplies feasts, when she is sick and wayward she increases fasting and turns the feasting Table of the Lord’s Supper into a somber Tomb.   This is what happened in the late Middle Ages, before Calvin and Luther restored weekly communion, feasting, singing, and gave Christian people a reason for giving thanks.  Knowing that Jesus died to set us from from sin, death, and the devil leads to thankful feasting.
This tradition of giving precedence to feasting is not merely a tradition, it’s mandated by God in the Bible—Old and New Testaments.  God multiplied feasts and commanded his people to eat and drink and rejoice regularly, repeatedly.  Here is just one example:
And before the LORD your God, in the place that he will choose, to make his name dwell there, you shall eat the tithe of your grain, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock, that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always. And if the way is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, when the LORD your God blesses you, because the place is too far from you, which the LORD your God chooses, to set his name there, then you shall turn it into money and bind up the money in your hand and go to the place that the LORD your God chooses and spend the money for whatever you desire—oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall eat there before the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household (Deut. 14:23-26).
So why does God command us to feast?

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