Oh, I enjoy Christmas well enough. It’s simply that the day set aside to recognize “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” holds a special place in my heart and life.
Undoubtedly the warm memories of Thanks-giving at my Grandmother’s house are part of what stirs my excitement. Her sideboard was always filled with a vast assortment of pies. And there was the year I got to join the adult table because I was finally old enough. 🙂
Since coming to faith as adults, my Honey and I have been pleased to dedicate the fourth Thursday in November to express our gratitude to God for the many blessings He’s bestowed on us. We begin with the establishing of “a form of government for [our] safety and happiness” and “in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleased to confer upon us.”
The primary evidence of God’s favor we affirm is the salvation He offers through His Son. A secondary one is the family, described in Deuteronomy 6 as the training ground for passing on the knowledge of God to future generations. In that sense, it is fitting for us to celebrate family as one of His major blessings.
It’s said that by 1623, after a deadly winter, the Pilgrims were reduced to five kernels of corn per person per day. That spring, in response to a drought, they fasted and prayed to the LORD for relief. He granted a rainy season and saved their crops.
That fall the Pilgrims began their harvest meal with a mark of remembrance for His merciful deliverance. Five kernels of corn were placed on their empty plates. Each one stood to express their gratitude for five specific blessings God had bestowed on them. This observance is no less valuable for us today, pilgrims being sustained by our gracious God in a dry land.
“It is good to give thanks to ADONAI.” Psalm 92:1 Complete Jewish Bible, David H. Stern
May the LORD fill your Thanks-giving with exactly that, the giving of thanks for His loving and powerful blessings in your life.
with confidence in His provision,
I include a copy of George Washington’s proclamation in modern translation, followed by a copy of the original newspaper clipping. Take a few moments to read and consider the spiritual roots of our national holiday.
BY THE PRESIDENT
OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
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 favour; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK 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 TWENTY-SIXTH 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 in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, 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 favours which He has been pleased to confer upon us.
AND ALSO, That we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions;– to enable us all, whether in publick or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us); and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.
GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.
(signed) George Washington
*I write Thanks-giving with a hyphen to emphasize the purpose of the day.