The Dancing Puritan

Monday, November 17, 2014

Think and Give Thanks

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The goodness of God is abundantly clear! 
He did not leave himself without a witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness. (Acts 14:17).
With such clarity, how should you respond to the benevolence of God?

George Washington, wrote in his Thanksgiving Proclamation, of the "duty of all nations to acknowledge the Providence of Almighty God." A presidential proclamation is an advisement. It is a recommendation from the Commander in Chief. President Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1863 began a string of such proclamations that continue today, but it was not binding.

Sarah Hale (1788-1879) is the person most instrumental in our present Thanksgiving Day. She worked tirelessly through her writings to promote an official day set apart for thanksgiving. Though she was pleased with Lincoln's proclamation (1863) it was not enough. She wanted a binding declaration from Congress. She thought that the fourth Thursday in November should be established as a federal holiday. She made her argument from Washington's proclamation. Washington believed that it was a nation's duty to "acknowledge the Providence of Almighty God." Sarah Hale would not live to see Congress officially establish the fourth Thursday in November as an official holiday. However, the seeds that she planted resulted in the official holiday.

Resolved by the Senate and the House of Representatives Of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
That the last Thursday of November in each year after the Year 1941 be known as Thanksgiving Day, and is hereby Made a legal public holiday to all intents and purposes and In the same manner as the 1st day of January, the 22nd day of February, the 30th day of May, the 4th day of July, the First Monday of September, the 11th day of November, and Christmas Day is now made by law public holidays. 
Passed the House of Representatives October 6, 1941.
The Senate amended this on December 9th, 1941 to read the "fourth" instead of the last Thursday of November (Penny Coleman, Thanksgiving: The True Story).

Sarah Hale should get a lot of credit for her work in the Presidential proclamations from Lincoln onward and the ultimate establishment of the act of Congress in 1941 that established our national Thanksgiving Day.

It is indeed the duty of nations and individuals to give thanks to God. The Bible commands thanksgiving as the will of God (2 Thessalonians 2:13, I Thessalonians 5:18). Christians are to be thankful people regardless of what the nation does on the fourth Thursday of November.  It is not a matter of biblical spirituality whether you celebrate a national holiday or not (Colossians 2:16-17).

Regardless of whether you celebrate Thanksgiving Day, it is the solemn duty of all Christians to give thanks. It's a matter of the heart bathed in awareness of how kind God has been in sending his Son--not a matter of any particular day.

Material above is adapted from Family Worship for the Thanksgiving Season. Order a copy at