Movements That Changed Our Lives: The Poet Who Gave Us Thanksgiving

24 Nov

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“It’s the most wonderful time of the year” —or possibly the worst, depending on your perspective. This week marks the start of a parade of notable days in the American calendar, marked by turkeys, shopping mayhem, wish lists, and, hopefully, counting our blessings. It also has something powerful to speak to us that may surprise you—it tells a story about how movements happen and cultures change. And it demonstrates to us that movements are not only possible, they are all around us.

Take, for example, the Thanksgiving holiday, which at one time existed only as an idea in the minds of a few. Movements often start this way—rising from small beginnings to literally transform society.

Americans actually owe Thanksgiving to someone whose other mark on history was a simple, although memorable, nursery rhyme. Thanksgiving was officially established by President Lincoln, but only after the tireless advocacy of writer Sarah Hale (author of the poem Mary Had a Little Lamb), who had been campaigning for it for 17 years. Sarah’s vision and refusal to give up has resulted in millions of Americans coming together to give thanks for over 150 years.

For a movement to take place, an idea must spread far beyond the initial instigator; it has to be taken up, put into practice, and promoted by many people, until cities, regions, and cultures have been changed. When we at CRM envision gospel movements, we are dreaming of widespread change, where groups of people, nations, and cultures come in contact with Jesus and deep transformation take place.

Movements can have surprising origins. Who would have thought the person who wrote Mary had a Little Lamb would have such a strong cultural legacy? She wasn’t the most powerful person in society, but her idea had power, and it is now woven into the cultural identity.

Maybe you feel you are not that important or influential. We can get overwhelmed by the size of the challenges and problems we face. But as we continue to sow the seeds of gospel movements into our neighborhoods and networks, who can say how God might multiply our efforts to see his Kingdom come on earth? The gospel is truly the most powerful idea ever shared.