I'm Not Talking Turkey

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.”

Galatians 5:1

If you are in Christ, you have much to give thanks for on Thanksgiving Day, mainly that you have been pardoned by God, you have been set free. That was the thought that came to mind as I watched the news report this past week of the President pardoning a Turkey. I was curious about the significance of the gesture and began to do some research.

On a day when roughly 46 million turkeys are killed to provide a holiday meal I was happy to learn the practice of “pardoning” a turkey has been a practice of many Presidents in celebration of Thanksgiving throughout our countries history. Though many presidents before him offered an occasional pardon of a turkey at Thanksgiving, the practice didn’t become an annual tradition until George H.W. Bush took office. Every president since has just prior to Thanksgiving Day pardoned a turkey allowing the bird to live out the rest of its life on a farm without fear of becoming a family feast. I love the idea and was hoping that the ceremonial practice of pardoning a turkey at Thanksgiving was to serve as a reminder to our country that we serve a loving God who made it possible for each of us to be pardoned when God Himself offered up His Only Begotten Son so that whosoever would believe in Him would not perish but have everlasting life.  

Sadly, there is no deep spiritual meaning to the practice of pardoning a turkey at Thanksgiving by the President but that doesn’t mean each of us can’t put the annual tradition into practice around the table in our own homes. What if before we sat down to eat our Thanksgiving meal we made “pardoning” the theme of the day. First and foremost we can thank God that He has pardoned us and set us free because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on Calvary’s Cross. We can offer pardon’s to others. The Bible teaches us that “offenses” are a part of the human existence so learning to deal with them the properly allows us to enjoy a greater quality of life.  

Consider ways you and your family can put pardoning into practice this Thanksgiving. Is there a family member or friend with whom you are distant from because of a past offense? Help them feel like you would hope that presidential pardoned turkey feels like being spared from certain death. Reach out and let them know they have been pardoned and extend an invitation to dinner with Ephesians 4:32 in mind, “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”

Maybe harder than pardoning or forgiving others is forgiving yourself. A quote by Lewis B. Smedes comes to mind, “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” If you really want to put the happy into your thanksgiving celebration this year receive God’s pardon in your life where you need it and then offer forgiveness to others in need as there is nothing as refreshing that being set free!

“Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”

John 8:36


Michael Osthimer





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