|Posted by communications on November 19, 2020 at 12:45 AM|
We will not be sending out a full newsletter next Thursday, so I’ll offer some thoughts on Thanksgiving today. For a long time, Thanksgiving was celebrated in an ad hoc way. Each colony and then each state scheduled its own Thanksgiving holiday at various times. But in 1863, 74-magazine editor Sarah Hale wrote to Abraham Lincoln and advised him to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday, with a fixed annual day on the calendar. So in the context of a Civil War raging, the President of the United States of America made this 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.”
Lincoln goes on to tally the many things the nation has to be grateful for in the realms of agriculture, industry, national defense, and more. He credits God’s mercy alone for any and all blessings. But the conclusion of the Proclamation is where things get really interesting and poignant. He writes:
“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, tranquillity and Union.”
Lincoln speaks honestly about how America had grown complacent, how the nation had fallen short of its own ideals. He called on the people to repent and to seek God’s healing of the nation’s wounds through gratitude. His word were fitting for his own time, and they resonate for our time as well.
We really need gratitude these days. In a year with so much loss, we must be grateful for lives and our country and our family and our God, who loves us too much to let us get away with complacency. May our gratitude lead to contentment with what we have. May our contentment inspire compassion. May our compassion lead to justice. May justice build up our community, healing our wounds.
I believe God calls us to gratitude as a way of life, and that living gratefully has the power to change the world. I wish you a happy and safe Thanksgiving.
Yours in Christ,