Yesterday citizens of this country celebrated our annual day of Thanksgiving. Families gathered to embrace each other in the exuberance of love and connection. But I am sad to report that many of us who prepared great feast to share with those that we love have no idea of the real meaning of this special day. Even among the people of God in America many of us don't know why this day is known and celebrated as Thanksgiving. Reading the statements of many believers on Facebook at times we seem conflicted by a day of thanks because we are directed by the Word of God to live our lives in thanksgiving. Several of my Facebook friends wished me a happy thanksgiving and then admonished me to remember that every day is a day of thanksgiving. So if we as Christians celebrate this one day out of the year as a day of thanks than are we somehow missing the message that every day is a day of thanksgiving. I don't think so. But I do think that the problem with reconciling a day of thanksgiving with a lifestyle of thanksgiving is because we really don't know what this day represent to this nation. So today I want to share with you the reason why the fourth Thursday of November is called Thanksgiving.
This day was proclaimed by President George Washington on October 3, 1789. In that proclamation President Washington was asked by both houses of Congress "to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANKSGIVING AND PRAYER, TO BE OBSERVED BY ACKNOWLEDGING WITH GRATEFUL HEARTS THE MANY AND SIGNAL FAVORS OF ALMIGHTY GOD..."
The first president of the United States and the members of our first legislative branch known to us as Congress called the nation to set aside a day to give thanks to God. They are many secularist and atheist who are trying to remove the acknowledgement of God from our history. But here in this presidential proclamation President Washington not only recognizes our God but set aside an entire day for Him to be recognized nationally.
Furthermore President Washington wrote, "NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY OF NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being..." This day was set apart to serve God. The original intent of today was declared by the President and the Congress to be a day of service to God.
President Washington also stated in his Proclamation, "that we might 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..." On this day the first President of the United States asked the citizens of this country to ask God to forgive the national sins of this nation.
Today's Day of Thanksgiving is so far removed from its original intent and purpose but also the presence of our God is far removed from the face of this nation. Materialism and consumerism now fill our holidays and our feed our greed with no satisfaction. Prayer to God is shunned from the market square of our nation. Darkness increases over our land and evil is called good. How far have we as a nation fallen from the sunlight of God's favor but it's not too late to turn and to return to Him who was declared by the pen of the first President. If we return to God as a nation, then the words of George Washington will manifest in our times. "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."
As a Christian I enter His gates each day with thanksgiving but as a citizen of this nation I see a great need for this country to return to the original Day of Thanks and Prayer. The Divided States of America need the God of George Washington who does rule nations and exalts nations as well as bring down nations. It's not too late for this Nation to humble itself under His mighty hand and be exalted to shine as a city on the hill.
The picture below is a copy of President Washington's Proclamation that appeared in the Massachusetts Centinel on October 14, 1789.