A day to give thanks…


The celebration of Thanksgiving has always been associated with a peaceful feast between the first natives to our land–the Indians–and the Pilgrims. When the Pilgrims arrived in Massachusetts Bay, they found only one living Patuxet Indian, a man named Squanto who had survived slavery in England and knew their language. He taught them to grow corn, to fish, and negotiated a peace treaty between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Nation. At the end of their first year, the Pilgrims held a great feast honoring Squanto and the Wampanoags and thanked God for their good fortune and bounty.

While skirmishes and raids between the Indians and the “white” men had occurred over the years, historical revisionists would have us believe that these dreadful incidents should preclude our positive feelings and/or happiness about our national holiday.

My take? While history should not repeat itself, it usually does by those who do not understand that sin in this world is always the source of our struggles. Until man recognizes that he is not able to overcome sin in his own strength and, most importantly, that he is not master over himself but God is, there will be struggles, evil, and trials on the earth.

Thanksgiving has been observed in different ways throughout the centuries… During the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress issued various proclamations for national days of prayer and giving thanks, usually in November and December.

In 1789, George Washington said he wanted the people to be thankful “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.”

The proclamation also makes it clear that the Thanksgiving Day, in Washington’s opinion, should be a day of prayer, especially for lawmakers and government officials.

It was President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 who issued the next major Thanksgiving Day proclamation, and every President since Lincoln has issued an annual proclamation.

“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.”