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Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Freelance: FED AND FAMISHED

"Ours was the first country to establish a holiday for giving thanks." So says Linus to Charlie Brown.

Not so, Linus.

Over three thousand years ago, God established three holidays for thanksgiving. Israelite men traveled to the house of God for three feasts: Unleavened Bread, Harvest, and Ingathering. These coincided, respectively, with the spring barley harvest, the summer wheat harvest, and the autumn harvest.

Between October and April, two periods of rain fell, followed by the long dry summer of only heavy dews. Insufficient "former" and "latter" rains meant insufficient spring, summer or autumn harvest.

To put this in perspective, what if payday came three times a year? What if each time we collected a check, we then traveled several days to a somewhat central place—say, Chicago—and had a big celebration to give thanks? What if there was no paycheck between October and April, and next year's paychecks were contingent upon staying in touch year-round with the head of payroll?

In ancient Israel, the three feasts were special occasions to give thanks to the sustenance Provider, and a reminder to depend upon Him.

In modern America, Thanksgiving is the aisle with turkey-decorated platters and potholders between large Halloween and Christmas sections. Thanksgiving is the binge before either The Game or a long weekend of 5AM til midnight SALES. Thanksgiving is the mark after which we stop complaining about how early Christmas carols and decorations are out.

We may suffer malnutrition from too many boxed meals, but few among even our poor suffer starvation. Amid recession, we are well fed. We are completely unfamiliar with a concept owned by people of other times and other nations, but certainly not Americans: Famine.

Ironically, what leads to famine is being so well fed that we forget to be famished for God.

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. (Psalms 42:1 NIV)

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Copyright 2008, Anne Lang Bundy

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