The real Thanksgiving is about acknowledging the goodness of God and giving thanks for His provision and care.
Take a look at its history:
The Continental Congress (which met between 1774 and 1789) issued several calls for days of humiliation, prayer and thanksgiving. The first one was to be observed on Nov. 28, 1782. The proclamation reads in part:
“It being the indispensable duty of all nations, not only to offer up their supplications to Almighty God, the giver of all good, for His gracious assistance in times of distress, but also in a solemn and public manner, to give Him praise for His goodness in general, and especially for great and signal interpositions of His Providence in their behalf.”*
George Washington, not long after being sworn in as president, issued a proclamation designating Nov. 26, 1789 as a Day of Thanksgiving in which all citizens should offer gratitude to God for His protection, care and many blessings. It was the first Thanksgiving Day designated by the new government of the United States.
The proclamation read in part:
“Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me ‘to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.’
“Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. 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 … And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord.
“Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.”*
A Day of Thanksgiving to be observed on the last Thursday in November was given by Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War in 1863. Even though the nation was several years into one of the bloodiest wars in U.S. history, Lincoln cited reasons that the people had for being thankful to God. He wrote:
“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, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that these blessings should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and 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 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.”
President Lincoln’s decree for the final Thursday in November to be set as “Thanksgiving” remained until Dec. 26, 1941, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a joint resolution of Congress changing the national Thanksgiving Day from the last Thursday in November to the fourth Thursday.*
Get the story behind Squanto and the Pilgrims HERE.
* Taken from https://www.charismanews.com/opinion/53467-the-christian-origins-of-thanksgiving.
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