My favorite holiday of the year … Thanksgiving Day.
I love it for its Christian meaning, as the thankful life is the Spirit-filled life (Ephesians 5:18-20).
I love it for its social benefit, as it’s a great time to reconnect with family, and reach out to others.
I love it for the food, fun, and football. The Lord truly gives us all things richly to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17b).
And I love it for its historical depth. It depicts so well the Christian roots of our nation … the influences that helped shape our nation and its unique freedoms, blessings, and privileges.
One of my habits each Thanksgiving Day is to read the Thanksgiving Day Proclamation by our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln. In so many ways, it’s a remarkable declaration; it was made during the height of the Civil War, was boldly and unapologetically Biblical, and supremely Presidential.
I am including it here for your reflection, and if you feel so directed, for you to read on Thanksgiving Day before family and friends.
May God bless you, richly.
President Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation
It is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God; to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord.
We know that by His divine law, nations, like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world.
May we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people?
We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown.
But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.
Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.
It has seemed to me fit and proper that God should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people.
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 as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.
October 3, 1863
(Lincoln’s papers, Library of America, 2:520-521)
Bill — one of my favorite Presidential speeches! Thanks for sharing it. It amazes me that Lincoln says things less than 100 years into the great experiment of the American Constitutional Republic that my heart (and sometimes mouth) is saying to today’s generations:
“But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.”
It’s like the old Larry Norman song says, “Nothing ever changes. Everything remains the same,” which was surely his own 70s rock version of Solomon’s remarks in Ecclesiastes ??:??, “there’s nothing new under the sun.”
Even in Lincoln’s day our forefathers were already forgetting and forsaking. Removing the rightful place of the cause (the grace and mercy of God) and replacing it with the effect (the work and wisdom of men).
May we apply this at least to our own personal lives and those of our families this Thanksgiving season. May we remember what true thankfulness is and the paradoxical reality of true freedom through unmitigated and unrelenting dependence upon God’s grace in Christ Jesus.