The history of the US Thanksgiving holiday is often regaled to children in fables regarding a harvest feast with “pilgrims” and “Indians” joyfully and harmoniously gathering in the early settlements of the New World. History, however, is rarely as clean and polished as the stories that are told to children. The holiday itself was proclaimed by President Abraham Lincoln in the midst of a bloody civil war, a war which claimed more American lives than any other armed conflict in the nation’s history. As participants in this holiday some 156 years later, we focus on food and offer sometimes pithy gratitude for the “things” we have in our lives. Yet the holiday, as proclaimed, was one of repentance and of gratitude to God for His graciousness and mercy. The good, the bad, the abundance, and the tumult of this world are altogether fleeting. To this end, we can always and should always consider thankfulness more broadly as a world in need, and most importantly, in need of a good and gracious God. For this need, and for the fulfillment of His promises through the sacrifice of His beloved Son, I offer sincere and humble thankfulness to my Creator.
Thanksgiving Holiday Proclamation
“The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God … [The gifts of our Nation] 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.”
President Abraham Lincoln, October 3, 1863
“For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith” (1 John 5:4). In faith, then, we offer You, O God Almighty Father, praise and thanks for Your blessings bestowed upon us and we humbly implore Your continued mercy through Christ our Lord. Amen