Thanksgiving has become the forgotten event of the holidays. Oh, we celebrate it, schools are closed, businesses are closed, stores are …. well they used to be closed. We do get into the spirit of the day - 46 million turkeys could attest to that - with food and football and food and family and food and friends and food and the Macy’s Parade and the National Dog Show and well, more food.
So, yes, we have a national holiday wedged in between Halloween and the start of the Christmas Countdown. But we could hardly consider it a day when the nation slams on the brakes of commerce and routine life and bends the knee before our God with grateful hearts for His common grace and blessings.
But that is what it was intended to be. It was a common practice among European colonists to declare a day of fasting and thanksgiving after enduring particularly difficult events. Our traditional Thanksgiving coincides with the end of the harvest season when in 1621, the 51 survivors of the original 102 Pilgrims set aside a day to give thanks that they were still alive after a year of starvation and disease. For them the best way to express gratitude was to feast, not fast.
In 1777 the Continental Congress declared a national day of thanksgiving to celebrate victory over the British in Saratoga, in 1789 George Washington declared a day of thanksgiving to celebrate the completion of the constitution. In 1863 Abraham Lincoln made it a day to be celebrated en perpetua. His speech of that day included this:
"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."
There was a common thread among all those celebrations. They were days when people steeped in orthodox Christianity stopped their labors, set aside extra from the harvests and intentionally paused to acknowledge and thank their Creator for the blessings they received and to petition Him for national grace and mercy.
So it is that we, the friends and family of Grace Bible Church, will come together to acknowledge God as the source of all our blessings and to thank Him for His grace and mercy toward us. And yes we will enjoy the blessings of bountiful food and the blessings of loving community. We invite you to come join us around tables of fellowship for this evening when we observe our time of thanksgiving together.
To aid those preparing for this special time, we urge you to use the sign-up sheets in the Gathering Room to indicate how many are coming with you, and to indicate what food you will be bringing.