Today, in America is Thanksgiving Day. It is a day of celebration of what we have made of God’s gift to us all. Its history reaches all the way back to our Pilgrim forebearers, who felt called to thank God that they had survived the first year in the Massachusetts Bay.
Now it is a day of parades, football, serious overeating, and sleeping off that overeating by sleeping through the football on TV. But I think we all deep in our hearts do remember to thank “The Big Guy” for all we have, and the freedom to enjoy it.
President Washington certainly knew something about dark days, far darker than ours are today, and he (and Congress) thought it fit to remember the Author of our blessings. So should we.
From the Heritage Foundation
Thanksgiving ProclamationIssued by President George Washington, at the request of Congress, on October 3, 1789
By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.
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 favor; 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 public 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 26th 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 favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; 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, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors 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 trangressions; to enable us all, whether in public 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 shown kindness to 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 1789.
That’s the reason for the day put as well as anyone has, ever.
My family’s traditional table grace is this
But for the AATW family, we have another reason to thank God. It was just a little over a year ago that Jess wrote this:
There was a moment, just over a week ago, when I thought that was it. If it was His will, then I was ready to bow to it – after all, I would be going home, and have many people there with whom I look forward to being reunited – and for my friends here, well it would be but a short while before we were united again. But, for whatever reason, God decided it was not my time, although, as the medics keep telling me, it may well be, and soon, as the cancer may return as mysteriously as it seems to have gone; bless them, you can’t expect a medic to believe in miracles.
I do believe in them, and in my case they come, at least in part, through the dedicated care of doctors and nurses – and hospital chaplains – as well as the prayers of friends and family. We are, as people, so much better than we sometimes allow ourselves to be in the press of everyday life, and during times like the one I have just been through, you see people at their best, as they set aside the ephemera of every day and focus on what we can do best when we act in the image of God – that is the giving of love and of care. As one reaches some kind of extremis time changes, it ceases to be linear. There were times when it moved swiftly, times it moved so slowly minutes seemed like days; and, in my condition, times when whole days vanished in a morphine-induced oblivion.
And now a year later, I think it meet to report that she has had her first annual examination and is still cancer-free, and so nearly recovered from the ordeal, that she has little memory of it now. She is considering her future, and while I have no inside information, and wouldn’t be able to share it if I did, I believe that it will conform to the prayer from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer which concludes this post.
O GOD, who art the giver of life, of health, and of safety; We bless thy Name, that thou hast been pleased to deliver from her bodily sickness Jessica, thy servant, who now desireth to return thanks unto thee, in the presence of all thy people. Gracious art thou, O Lord, and full of compassion to the children of men. May her heart be duly impressed with a sense of thy merciful goodness, and may she devote the residue of her days to an humble, holy, and obedient walking before thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.