For the last day and a half, I have been pondering the idea of Thanksgiving as a holiday. Most people understand it as a day to show gratefulness for the many good things we enjoy. We also understanding it as a day of fellowship with family and friends, often accompanied by turkey and stuffing. But as I continued to ponder the idea of thanksgiving, I thought about the act of thanksgiving. The act of thanksgiving seems to imply more than just embracing a general spirit of gratefulness. It seems directed towards the end of giving thanks. And the act of giving is normally directed toward a recipient.
As I looked over the presidential Thanksgiving proclamations of old, it seemed that Thanksgiving was intended for a specific recipient. President George Washington proclaimed that Thanksgiving should be:
“observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God…”
Over seventy years later, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed that a day should be:
“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.”
Even from the beginning in 1607, Chaplain Robert Hunt led the Jamestown expedition in a service of thanksgiving upon landing at Cape Henry. From then to today, Americans have been particularly attentive to acknowledging God’s hand in our affairs
As we spend his day with family and friends, I pray that we continue to see God’s hand upon our nation and upon our lives. And I pray that we direct thanksgiving accordingly.