Thanksgiving to God

Its thanksgiving, and this column is being written late due to working on other projects including my attempts to start preparing to retake the GREs and plans for several pamphlets for Truth in the Trenches – it is odd to think of taking a day “off.” We live in a fast paced world, with a tangle of responsibilities. Still, while I try to stay out from underfoot in my wife’s kitchen (I am told “I am not helpful” with my ill-advised attempts at humor or reading my thoughts to her while she cooks, and often my assistance inevitably makes her work harder, with the exception of moving the furniture to make way for guests, or bringing in her roasting pans from the garage, – poor gal, she is stuck with me, but I am thankful for her). So while I am trying to stay out from underfoot, it is wise to remind oneself that Thanksgiving is not “Black Friday eve.”

My wife reminds me, of course, that there is nothing wrong with shopping on Black Friday (I would expect no less from my wife, who has a gift for keeping our accounts in balance – and I am still surprised at how deft she is at managing our sometimes slim resources). But unfortunately, in modern America, Kiplings “gods of the marketplace,” often seem to rule the American heart, and most people look to either material possessions or their lack as the center of life. The God of heaven often takes second place to the everyday and the mundane, and if America is faltering economically, perhaps the reason why is because we have forgotten Him, and at no time is this more apparent than at “turkey day.”

Thanksgiving is an innately Christian holiday; while it was not codified into US law until the time of Abraham Lincoln the first thanksgiving was celebrated in 1623 when the English Separatists (theological relatives of the Baptists, who we today call “the pilgrims”) decided to hold a feast in the manner of those in Old Testament to thank God (not, as some textbooks indicate the Indians) for bringing them through dark times. This custom of thanking God for His goodness was common elsewhere, Washington for example called for a day of thanksgiving to God in 1789. Abraham Lincoln’s announcement as well expressly noted this religious character in his statement on thanksgiving which states,

“It has pleased Almighty God to prolong our national life another year, defending us with His guardian care against unfriendly designs from abroad and vouchsafing to us in His mercy many and signal victories over the enemy, who is of our own household. 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 us new sources of wealth and has crowned the labor of our workingmen in every department of industry with abundant rewards. Moreover, He has been pleased to animate and inspire our minds and hearts with fortitude, courage, and resolution sufficient for the great trial of civil war into which we have been brought by our adherence as a nation to the cause of freedom and humanity, and to afford to us reasonable hopes of an ultimate and happy deliverance from all our dangers and afflictions:

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 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.”

We live in dark days, and the Church may very well have trying times ahead. Yet, it is similarly fitting that we thank God for His goodness in hard times – it is easy to appear thankful in good times, but in darker times a spirit of thankfulness is needed all the more. We should enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise.

I am thankful He has brought Mandy and I together, she is a source of joy and maintains the household so that I am able to try to build this ministry as an offering to Him, such as it is. I am thankful he brought me through the trials of the last decade – and it is fitting then that as believers in America we turn our thoughts to Him on this day.


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