As most know, today is Thanksgiving in the United States. The only truly religious holiday we have, although yes, we do know why we celebrate Christmas and Easter. It was first proclaimed in the United States in 1789 by President Washington and regularized in 1863 by President Lincoln. And so we, each November, pause to give thanks to our God for what we have received, including the bounty of our fields, and out liberty itself.
Gene Veith at Cranach this year, reminds of how the words all link back
Thankfulness is an acknowledgment of dependence. In that, it is like faith.
The English word “thank” is related to the word for “think.” Part of the observance of Thanksgiving should be thinking about our blessings, which leads naturally to thanking.
Our word “gratitude” comes from the Latin word for thanks, “gratus,” from which is also derived the word “gratia,” meaning grace.
The Greek word used in the New Testament for “to thank” or “to be thankful” consists of the word for “good” and the word for “grace” or “favor.”
St. Paul enjoins us to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). The word is εὐχαριστεῖτε: eucharist!
And so do take some time to remember the source of all our many blessings on this day when America pauses to eat and drink, not so much bread and wine (although we do that in copious quantities) as turkey and dressing and yes pumpkin pie. We might also be grateful that we are halfway through the pumpkin spice season.
Thanksgiving ProclamationIssued by President George Washington, at the request of Congress, on October 3, 1789
By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.
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 and 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 previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.
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 trangressions; 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 to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.
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