Thanksgiving Update


In many other countries, people celebrate a harvest festival this time of year but in the United States we have a particular holiday – Thanksgiving – which we celebrate this week. I thought it would be appropriate therefore to read President George Washington’s original Thanksgiving proclamation because I think it is very meaningful and reminds us exactly what this day was originally meant to celebrate. This is what he wrote,

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 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 favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced 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 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 hath 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 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 unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease 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.

A remarkable proclamation, I think you will agree. I think it would be appropriate at this time to pray and to thank the Lord for what Washington called these signal and manifold blessings that we in this country enjoy.

Our heavenly Father, we do thank you that we can enjoy a country that guarantees our religious and civil liberties. We thank you that our nation has acknowledged historically your providence and sovereign care and blessing. We would pray, Lord, that we would not be remiss in acknowledging our gratitude to you as the source from whom all these goods flow. We thank you for the freedom and the peace and the tranquility and the prosperity that you’ve blessed us with. Lord, we would pray that as we move forward into this century that you would bless us with good presidents, senators, congressmen and other government officials; that they would be wise in the administration of their duties and respect the constitutional rights that have been guaranteed to us. We pray that you would guide your people, Lord, to be salt and light in a dark and increasingly secular society. We pray, Father, for revival in this country; that your church would be revived first and foremost and then that we, as Christians, would make a great difference in our culture to call it back to faithfulness in you. Thank you, Lord, for all that you’ve done in blessing us in this country. We return to you praise and thanks with grateful hearts, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.[1]

[1] Total Running Time: 6:12 (Copyright © 2013 William Lane Craig)