By: Rachel Kiujian 

In the vast tapestry of global traditions, few resonate as deeply as the American concept of Thanksgiving. So what’s in Thanksgiving for Aussie Christians?

Thanksgiving traces its roots back to the early 17th century when the Pilgrims, seeking religious freedom, sailed to the shores of what would become the United States of America. Their journey was fraught with challenges, yet they found reason to be thankful for the harvest that sustained them when they arrived in their new country. Over the centuries, this simple expression of gratitude has evolved into a national holiday marked by feasts, parades and retail sales.

At its core, Thanksgiving is a celebration of gratitude. It’s a day when Americans pause to reflect on the blessings they’ve received. The essence of this tradition is undeniably beautiful, prompting some of us on the other side of the globe to wonder—could we adopt this heart of thankfullness?

The heart of Thanksgiving finds its echo in the Scriptures. Ephesians 5:19-20 exhorts believers to “speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Similarly, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 encourages a continuous attitude of praise and giving thanks: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

These scriptures align seamlessly with the spirit of Thanksgiving—a day set aside for intentional gratitude. As Aussie Christians, adopting this concept wouldn’t mean transplanting an American tradition, but rather infusing our own unique cultural context with the essence of Thanksgiving.

Picture this: a Thanksgiving celebration in Australia where families and friends gather not only around a table laden with food, but also around the shared acknowledgment of blessing. It’s about creating space in our lives to recognise and appreciate the good things God has bestowed upon us—whether it’s the warmth of the Australian sun on our faces, the support of friends, the blessing of family, good health or the beauty of our diverse landscape.

In our churches, Thanksgiving could become a time of communal worship, echoing the American tradition of gratitude-filled services. We could incorporate moments of thanksgiving into our regular gatherings, encouraging church members to share stories of God’s goodness and faithfulness, both in small groups and corporate worship services.

We could easily find a place in the Australian  church for the American tradition of marking Thanksgiving with acts of service and generosity. Just as many Americans engage in charitable activities during Thanksgiving, Australian Christians could seize the opportunity to reach out to their communities. Whether it’s donating to a food drive, volunteering at a shelter, or simply helping a neighbour in need, the spirit of Thanksgiving becomes a catalyst for living out our faith in practical ways.

As we consider adopting elements of Thanksgiving, let’s remember that it’s not about mimicking a cultural tradition, but about embracing a posture of gratitude. It’s about weaving a tapestry of appreciation into the fabric of our lives, and acknowledging God for the good things He surrounds us with. How different would life look if we expressed thankfulness not just on a designated day, but as a continuous rhythm in our everyday relationship with God?

Article supplied with thanks to Rhema 99.7.

Feature image: Photo by Libby Penner on Unsplash