Tomorrow, we as Americans will be celebrating Thanksgiving. I wonder what really is in the forefront of our minds. Will the majority of us make “giving thanks” a priority or will we be consumed with preparing food for family and friends to consume? Our family will eat its share of turkey, but we will also have one item on our table that will not be part of most Thanksgiving feasts. We have unpopped kernels of popcorn! Above each family member’s dinner plate will be a small paper cup of popcorn kernels. After all the dishes of food have been passed around, I will begin to pass around an empty dish. Into this dish, I place one kernel of popcorn while mentioning a specific thing I am thankful for. Each family member shares something for which he or she is thankful and places a kernel in the bowl as it is passed around the table numerous times. Some of our sharings are serious or sacred while others may be silly. However, one rule is that there are no repeats. Every person has to be creative about their thankfulness. After the dish has been passed around several times, someone will usually say he or she is thankful for everything and dumps all of their remaining kernels into the dish. Everyone concurs and all paper cups are emptied into the dish. Our popcorn platitudes of thankfulness are concluded, but we are not finished with our popcorn activities. Later in the day, the grandchildren pop the corn and string it on thread to make a garland. This garland of popcorn will become a decoration upon our Christmas tree to remind our family to be thankful during all seasons.
Our kernels of popcorn help our family focus upon the true meaning of Thanksgiving, but now I want to look at some spiritual symbolism regarding our popping of the corn with my old air popcorn popper.
“For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”
Our popcorn kernels are representatives of the thankfulness in our hearts that became spoken words at the dinner table. Now we place approximately one-fourth cup of the golden kernels into the air popper. The popcorn popper represents our hearts that are filled with kernels of thankfulness. The popper has the ability to spill out the kernels of corn just as we have the ability to speak out the words within our hearts.
“Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven
and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed
to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.
All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit.”
In this scripture, the Holy Spirit is referred to as being wind and fire that can be compared to the air and heat in the popper. When the heat and air generated by electricity are applied to the small kernels of corn, changes take place just as the form of our words may change when the fire and wind of the Holy Spirit are at work within us. When the Holy Spirit warms our hearts amazing things begin to happen! The popcorn will exude from the popcorn popper just like words will flow from our mouths.
“Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.”
1 Chronicles 29:13
“Enter His gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.”
The actions of thanksgiving and praise are often linked together in scripture. Thanking God for what He has done is like golden popcorn kernels. However when the fire and wind of the Holy Spirit are applied to our thanks, we not only thank God for what He has done, but praise Him for who He is. For example, I give thanks for how God has helped heal my arm this year, and this will cause me to praise God for being Jehovah-Rapha, my Healer. My giving thanks evolves into praise with the help of the Spirit of God within me. Both thanks and praise erupt from the words of my mouth originating in my heart – similar yet different. The same is true with the popcorn. After the heat and air of the popper are applied, the hard little golden kernels burst into white fluffy blossoms of popped corn – same yet different. The volume of the popped corn is much larger than the small amount of kernels we started with. In a sense, I believe praise is greater than giving thanks even though both originate in the same heart.
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; His love endures forever.”
While celebrating the national holiday of Thanksgiving tomorrow, may we all take time to fill our hearts with thanks as well as fill our stomachs with food. Just as little golden popcorn kernels have the potential to become larger white, fluffy, edible masses of grain, so do our words of thanks have praise possibilities. Popcorn may not be on your Thanksgiving feast menu, but I pray you will share thankfulness as you gather around the table. And, if your hearts swell with praise, do not restrain it, be willing to express praise as well as thanks. Scripture tells us to thank God because He is good. In addition, we can praise Him for His the goodness of His nature.