Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.
– Thomas Jefferson
Thanksgiving Proclamations started with George Washington, but it was Lincoln who made it a national holiday. Before this, each state celebrated a day of thanks on their own schedules. Lincoln responded immediately to the request of Sarah Josepha Hale, a magazine editor. She had been petitioning for 15 years to make Thanksgiving a national holiday and was ignored by previous Presidents.
Lincoln’s immediate response and how his Proclamation was written gives another view into his Character.
On this Thanksgiving let us not forget the source from which our blessings come – The ever watchful providence of Almighty God.
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. 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 they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one 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, tranquillity and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.
This time of year, I quickly find myself becoming Scrooge, “Ba-humbug” -ing the season. I used to live for Christmas: I love the lights, trees, and snow. To me there was no such thing as too much “Christmas.”
Now with deadlines, guidelines, and long hours, I can become grumpy – sitting in the corner losing my reason for the season (loosely based on REM’s Losing My Religion).
For those who work in church life, you know – this is our busy season. Some of my extended family still don’t understand that this is my job. I’m not just going to church [5 times on Christmas Eve] because I feel like it. I can’t blow off the services to come to Uncle Franks house for the holidays. The stress builds among family and co-workers, and if not addressed in a timely manner, someone may Vesuvius all over the place.
So, going into this season, I just want to encourage all of you who are gearing up for a busy holiday season, to do 3 things:
- Take a deep breath – You will get through it. Even though I am convinced that some difficult-to-setup artificial trees should be charged for crimes against humanity.
- Remember why we do this – Christmas Eve may be the only time a person steps foot inside a church. Keeping your mind focused on the end game will make that 70th box of ornaments being carried up three flights of stairs, not so heavy.
- Christ is Love – He would not want this time of year to lead to anger and frustration with your brother or sister. Everyone has times of frustration at work, and I have found that it helps to deal with the situation immediately. Allowing it to fester only makes it worse…much worse. I have been known to yell out, “SAME TEAM” when arguments are brewing; everyone needs to be reminded that we are all working together towards a common goal.
I pray your season will be merry and filled with joy & peace.
If you can dream it, you can do it.
– Walt Disney
I don’t believe you have to be better than everybody else. I believe you have to be better than you ever thought you could be.
– Ken Venturi