Psa. 116:17 I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving,
And will call upon the name of the LORD.
Thanksgiving is ingrained in the fabric of our American culture and heritage. Despite the onslaught on our heritage in the last generation, Thanksgiving remains in the hearts of Americans. It began with a simple celebration in the 1600’s as some of our first Americans survived a very unpleasant and difficult winter. They were grateful that many had survived and a harvest had come in that year. All they knew to do was to call a special feast day and give thanks to the Lord. It became a practice of various colonies over the years and became part of our national heritage under our first President, George Washington.
In the 1860’s our nation was being torn by the Civil War. Abraham Lincoln called for a national holiday to give thanks and praise to the Lord which has continued on the fourth Thursday of November since Lincoln’s proclamation. Her is a brief excerpt from his proclamation.
“…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, tranquility and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.”
President Abraham Lincoln, October 3, 1863
Our country is torn again today. At the heart of this conflict is two visions of America. Are we a secular or a Christian society? The way we answer that question will determine our national destiny. Give thanks to the Lord for the Lord is good. His mercy endures forever.