Dear Church Family,
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, in part because it is devoid of much commercialism and simply urges an outpouring of thanksgiving. As a result of a two decade long campaign by Sara Josepha Hale, editor of the most widely circulated magazine before the Civil War, Godey’s Lady Book, and author of the rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving Day as a national holiday in 1863.
It is noteworthy that he issued the first Presidential Thanksgiving proclamation in a time of national strife. Lincoln, expressed his gratitude that in the midst of “a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity,” the nation had continued to thrive and could “expect continuance of years with a large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God.” He called on the nation to offer thanks, to show “humble penitence for our national disobedience” (Lincoln is beginning by this point to see the war as a consequence of the national sin of slavery), and to “commend to God’s tender care” those who have become “mourners and sufferers in the lamentable civil strife.” He closed with a fervent plea to “the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation.”
You might want to read the entire proclamation. It is a beautiful statement of Lincoln’s trust in and thanks for the providential care of God. His words are a reminder to us, that our most important thanksgivings are offered not just when things are going well, but in times of difficulty.
We’ll continue the thanksgiving theme at worship this Sunday. The sermon is “When Jesus Gives Thanks” and the texts are Ezra 3:10-13 and John 6:1-15.
Have a most blessed Thanksgiving!
Peace and Joy,