The very first official presidential proclamation issued in America was George Washington’s 1789 Thanksgiving message to the people of the United States. He recommended to the people:”…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… “
Later, the constitution was severely tested in the Civil War, and Abraham Lincoln also issued a Thanksgiving proclamation:”I do therefore invite my fellow citizens … to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwells in the Heavens. And I recommend to … fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it … to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.”
Today, once again we face challenges in America and around the world. COVID19, racial tensions and injustice, are causing doubts and fears as we walk through this wilderness with no answers. But as our Forefathers and mothers did in the midst of their trials, we must also take time to seek wisdom and guidance from our Heavenly Father and to thank God for the many blessings.
Thanksgiving is an important part of the Christian life. The apostle Paul instructed the church in Philippi regarding prayer:”Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6, NASB)
Our requests and intercession are to include thanksgiving as a sign of our faith. We thank the Lord in advance that He hears our prayers, and that He is about a good work, bringing His will to pass in our lives. The Scriptures are filled with prayers of thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is also a way that we show humility before Almighty God. One day Jesus witnessed this kind of a grateful heart when He healed a group of ten lepers. Luke writes:
“… And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks.” (Luke 17:14-16a, ESV) Jesus made note of his humility in thanksgiving, but also of the lack of thanks on the part of the others:
“Then Jesus answered, ‘Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’ And he said to him, ‘Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.'” (Luke 17:17-19)
May we be like this one leper who was healed and then came back to give thanks. As we celebrate let us do so with a heart of thanksgiving for all that God has done in our lives over this past year.
And in faith, thank God for all that is going to be done in the year to come – because there is tremendous power in Thanksgiving!
PRAYER:Gracious God, thank you for your abundant gifts to me. Thank you for giving me not what I deserve, but so very much more. Thank you for the ways you have blessed me throughout my life. Thank you for allowing me to live in a country where I feel relatively free and safe. Thank you, most of all, for the gift of life you have given me through Christ. Thanks for the incredible privilege of knowing you and living my life in relationship with you, both now and forever.
All praise, honor and glory be to you, O God, giver of all good and perfect gifts! All praise be to you, because your grace and mercy are without end! All praise be to you for the gift of life in this world, and life forever in the age to come! All praise to you, O God, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen!
Peace, Pastor Nelda