It’s the time of Thanksgiving!
We are THANKFUL
Thanksgiving should be a special event, one of the most special events of our year.
But for many it’s been reduced to eating turkey, watching football games and ‘black’ Friday (or is it Thursday and Wednesday or the entire month now?)
Thanksgiving should be much more than food, football and shopping. But then, that was how it started – right?
A legal day of food, football and shopping by an act of Congress – wasn’t it?
Everyone knows the story of the 1st Thanksgiving…the Pilgrims…starvation… the Native Americans… salvation.
Today it’s popular to belittle that event – that time – and those extraordinary times and people. Some would like to claim it never happened.
But there was a man who believed it did happen.
October 3, 1789 was an especially cold day, when the country’s newly elected President, a man by the name of George Washington, stood in the new nation’s capital of New York City, and issued a Proclamation of Thanksgiving.
I wonder how many Americans have ever read it.
Have you? Want to?
Here – take a look…
He proclaimed a national day of food – football and shopping for everyone to applaud their good fortune and self-indulgence of material things…
Actually, it says some pretty amazing things, like:
“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…”
“… to the People of the United States a day of public thanks-giving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God…”
“… I 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…”
“…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…”
Wow! So much for separation of church and state. I wonder how many schools teach this.
Almost a hundred years later, in 1864, another President thought that having a day set aside for food, football and shopping was so important he made it into an annual National Holiday.
Take a look at what Abraham Lincoln said about it:
“It has pleased Almighty God to prolong our national life another year, defending us with His guardian care…”
“…It has also pleased our Heavenly Father to favor as well our citizens in their homes as our soldiers in their camps and our sailors on the rivers and seas with unusual health. He has largely augmented our free population by emancipation and by immigration, while He has opened to use new sources of wealth and has crowned the labor of our workingmen in every department of industry with abundant rewards…”
“…Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do hereby appoint and set apart the last Thursday in November next as a day which I desire to be observed by all my fellow-citizens, wherever they may then be, as a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe…”
And – here where the shopping cart comes in…
“… And I do further recommend to my fellow-citizens aforesaid that on that occasion they do reverently humble themselves in the dust and from thence offer up penitent and fervent prayers and supplications to the Great Disposer of Events for a return of the inestimable blessings of peace, union, and harmony throughout the land which it has pleased Him to assign as a dwelling place for ourselves and for our posterity throughout all generations.”
These are the words of our Presidents – Our Leaders! It would do us well today to listen.
Now – am I some kind of miserable, scrooge – being negative and having somekind of hatred against football – shopping and ‘black Friday’?
No No No
Let it not be said!
I love football (yes I’m a Buffalo Bills fan)
Shopping is good – Greed is bad.
Do you know what’s the unspoken secret of Thankfulness?
Thankfulness is not one-directional. It’s not only a ‘giving’ event – it’s as much if not more of a receiving event. It’s a benefit to those who are thankful.
Giving thanks transforms us. By nature we like to complain. Whining and griping comes naturally – but are unproductive and unattractive. Expressing gratitude is attractive and productive. Giving thanks transforms us from complainers into people of gratitude.
Giving thanks changes our perspective about the Creator-creature relationship. It causes us to acknowledge that God is the source of every good thing. When we thank God, we have to realize that our health, our family, our food, our shelter, our job, our talents – any abundance we may have – come from Him.
Giving thanks teaches us grace. It’s human nature to take credit for our accomplishments. Thankfulness teaches us that we have not earned anything – all we do is by the Lord’s grace. Each gift, whether it’s a job or a friend or family, or place to live or a freedom we enjoy or a spiritual blessing we have received, shows the grace of God.
Giving thanks humbles us. We walk through life selfish and self-absorbed. We are proud and self-centered. We think we deserve a lot. The world owes us. When we are truly thankful, we see we have much more than we deserve. Pride fades when we understand that every good thing comes from God. Thankful people are humble people – for they know they can do nothing on their own.
It’s easy to give thanks when things are going well.It’s harder when things are not going so well. We want to come to the place where we can give thanks for all things.
After suffering numerous “bad” things – Joseph said “What you meant for evil, God meant for good.”
Paul said, all things work together for good for those who love God.
I am “Thankful” to the Pilgrims – and to President George Washington and to President Abraham Lincoln – thankful for the ‘commitment’ they made.
There is so so much we have to be thankful for – I’m not even going to attempt to start naming them – the list is way, way too long.
Actually, Thanksgiving should be a time of commitment renewal and strengthening.
Thanksgiving should be an occasion to remind us of our commitments and to strengthen those commitments. Lacking that – it’s little more than spending time with family and shopping.
“Commitment.” you say? “Commitment to what?”
Commitment to those things for which we’re thankful.
Things like life – liberty – family – food in our stomachs – a roof over our heads – a pillow – a bed – friends and loved ones.
I am thankful.
Thankful to God for His Goodness and Blessings.
Thankful for the ‘Light’ He brought into the darkness.
And no matter what happens in this world – I will always be thankful that God remains in control.
Always giving thanks for all things (Ephesians 5:20).
Let us never forget those who simply have nothing – to be thankful for.
Those millions upon millions of helpless victims of darkness and inhuman treatment by their fellow man.
Those countless children born into misery – born into death – having no hope for joy in life.
We must never forget them – for they only have – those who remember.
It is only through our compassion and love that we bring joy to others and also find that inner joy that comes with bringing joy to others.
Until Next Time:
Embrace Life’s Bridges – For they Define Who You Are