I wanted to post something today that reminded us of the origin of this holiday, before it became overshadowed by football games and gluttony and premature Christmas decorations. I wanted to celebrate our wise and heroic forefathers who established this nation in fear and submission to the King of kings and Lord of lords, but I wasn’t quite sure what I was looking for.
I urge you to take the time to read this, the original proclamation of Thanksgiving as a national holiday, and ponder its wisdom.
By the PRESIDENT of the United States Of America
The Massachusetts Centinel, Wednesday, October 14, 1789
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 favour; 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 PUBLICK 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 TWENTY-SIXTH 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 favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed;– for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable 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 favours 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 transgressions;– to enable us all, whether in publick 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 shewn kindness unto 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, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.
(signed) G. Washington
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Today I am specifically thankful for all of the blessings I tend to take for granted — good friends, a happy home, a loving husband, three children, health, financial security. But I know that any of those things could be taken from me at any moment. There are no guarantees in this life. I am reminded of that truth every time I see another marriage crumbling, every time I visit Anissa’s blog and read her dear husband’s raw story of hope and faith.
And that’s when I remember that no matter what this life may have in store for me, there is one thing that can never be taken away, the thing for which I’m most thankful — my personal relationship with Christ Jesus and faith in his gift of eternal salvation, not earned with my own good works, which will never be enough and are always tainted by sin. But rather, this is a salvation bought with the blood of Christ by the grace of God alone, the One who always keeps his promises and never fails us. That is a hope that is sure.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-10 (New International Version)
9 thoughts on “On this Thanksgiving Day”
I’d never read the official proclamation before. But wow. So glad you shared that today. We’ve come a long way it seems. And not necessarily in the right direction. But what a good reminder…
May your Thanksgiving be reminiscent of the one in 1789 (with the added convenience of indoor plumbing!).
Our pastor read that to us for many years before he retired. Love it. And thank you for that wonderful reminder of the real reason we give thanks today.
Happy Thanksgiving, friend! I’m so glad I met you this year!
Thank you for posting this wonderful document. It certainly goes to show that country WAS established by God-fearing and God loving people.
Happy Thanksgiving…I’m grateful for all the new knowledge I’ve learned from you, Jo-Lynne!
Thanks Jo-Lynne! After a long (and mostly joyful) day of never-ending cooking and cleaning, it’s wonderful to read that proclamation. Absolutely beautiful. Thank you!
Also – you’ll be pleased to know – I actually made (almost) everything from scratch today. When preparing I just kept asking myself, WWJLD?
thank you so much for sharing such a wonderful letter from our 1st president. we just studied this in our homeschool classroom and i am continually moved by how our country has swayed so far from what our founding fathers intended.
so thank you .. for drawing our attention back…and reminding us to be grateful!
Wow, amen sister.
thank you jo-lynne. i enjoyed this. i hope your day was as peaceful as mine. Our God is good. we are so Blessed.
Thanks for this terrific post!
We read the proclamation before grace was said at our Thanksgiving dinner. Everyone appreciated the “back to basics” perspective. We also had a chance to go around the table and talk about our many blessings. Overcome with emotion, we could hardly speak of all God has done for us. We are blessed!