Turkey Day. That’s what people are calling this day. But what is that even supposed to mean? Does it mean that today is a day to celebrate turkeys? I think not, because the entire meal is served around a golden, roasted turkey. So what’s with the “Turkey Day” expression? What happened to Thanksgiving—a time in which we reflect and remember what God has done?
It all boils down to attitude. For it doesn’t really matter what we call it—Thanksgiving, Turkey Day, Gratefulness Day, family reunion—but where our hearts are. And Thanksgiving is all about expressing a heart attitude of gratitude and celebration for what God has provided. Therefore, while it doesn’t matter what we call this day, the name we choose to use does reflect where our heart is. Those who use the term Turkey Day probably don’t have thanking God on their schedule; to them it is most likely all about the turkey dinner. But if that’s what this day means, what’s the point? Why have a national day designated by the President of the United States to eat a massive turkey dinner? We could do that on our own. The President need not bother with making an official proclamation. But Thanksgiving is about much more than eating great food—although that is a bonus!
While I’m sure you are very familiar with the Pilgrims’ and Indians’ part of Thanksgiving history, you are probably not nearly as knowledgeable about the founding and purpose of the actual designation and history of a national day of thanks. President George Washington was the first to declare a national day of Thanksgiving, and thus set a precedent that almost all presidents have since maintained—that the third Thursday of every November be set aside as a day of nation-wide thanks giving. But in the first proclamation, who was the thanks giving directed to? Was it to the President for all he’s done? To families and friends, politicians, teachers, employers, employees? Who was it to be direct toward? The first national Thanksgiving Day was set aside to acknowledge the providence of the Almighty and seek His continued favor. Below is the complete Thanksgiving Proclamation set forth by George Washington in 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 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 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 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 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.
What an amazing purpose and how quickly we—as a nation—have lost sight of this lofty duty! However, we—as Christ’s Church—can return to the purpose and call of nation-wide thanksgiving and supplication. For as we watch the moral compass of our nation swiftly drifting far from true north, and the removal of all things God related from our culture, I believe that unless God brings a mass revival, there might not even be such a thing as Thanksgiving twenty years from now. When mentioned, our children will not even know what we’re talking about. Therefore, let’s be good stewards of the time we have been given to publicly and privately remember and thank God for all that He has done, both in our country and in our own personal lives.
So today, will you join me in returning to the original purpose and intent of Thanksgiving and remembrance of Who it is all about?
"But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise."
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