Thanksgiving

22 11 2006

Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving here in the U.S., I’m going to focus on that today.

The first Thanksgiving services were held in America in 1607, and the first Thanksgiving Festival was in 1621, which was a three-day feast to thank God and to celebrate with their Indian friends.  The holiday has been kept ever since then — almost 400 years!

On October 14, 1789, President George Washington officially established Thanksgiving with this proclamation :

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the Providence of Almighty God — to obey His will — to be grateful for His benefits — and humbly to implore His protection and favor : And whereas both Houses have, by their joint committee, requested me to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness. Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be — That we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks — for His kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation — for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of His Providence which we experienced in the tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed — for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted — for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which He hath been pleased to confer upon us.

Notice that both houses of government were in agreement with this, and that it focused on giving thanks to God.  You sure don’t hear many politicians talking like this anymore…

(You can see a scan of the original document here, although you have to account for the differences in English at that time).

In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln gave a Thanksgiving proclamation.  He told of how blessed the United States was, then said :

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.

Again you can see evidence of how America used to be a Christian nation.  And no, they weren’t in violation of “separation of church and state” — that means the government won’t establish a mandatory religion for the people.  These days some people are really getting that confused (on purpose), particularly the ACLU.  But that’s another discussion, for another day.  Today, let’s focus on being thankful for all the blessings we have, instead of talking about the people that are trying to destroy our country and our heritage.

I’m really thankful of all God has blessed me with : a wonderful wife, getting to live in a great country with freedom, having good health, a nice house, a great church to be involved in, that my brother was healed, a great family, etc.  But what I’m most thankful for is that God had mercy on me and accepted me into His Kingdom.  I don’t deserve that at all, yet by God’s grace He has forgiven me of all the times I’ve sinned against Him.  He took my life of despair and sinfulness, and gave me a new life of blessing and purpose, which can glorify Him.

Amidst all the eating and family get-togethers this week, I encourage you to take at least a few minutes to be thankful for all the blessings you enjoy.  It’s easy to take things for granted (like good health and having enough food), so make a special effort to think through all the good things God has blessed you with.

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21 11 2007
Beppo’s Blog » Blog Archive » taking time to be thankful

[…] It’s almost Thanksgiving, which is one of the holidays I really enjoy.  Last year I wrote on the history of Thanksgiving, but today I just want to share a few thoughts on it.  I know it can be a stressful time sometimes, with all the food preparations and travel, but let’s not forget what the holiday is all about.  Let us take time to thank God for His grace and mercy, His awesome promises, His love, and all the things He’s blessed us with, like our family, friends, and letting us be stewards of the material things we have in abundance above what we need to live. […]

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