Thanks For Mercy

Gratitude Chronicles – Part IX

I wish all of my readers a fantastic Thanksgiving. May your time with your family and friends be filled with lots of love, laughter and gratitude. As I close my “gratitude chronicles” I want to observe the history of the Thanksgiving holiday. What’s interesting to me is that Thanksgiving was locked into our national consciousness, and became a yearly tradition throughout the United States during the time of our nations deepest wound. Before the Civil War, our nation had already experienced various calls for national thanks-giving by various presidents for various reasons, and there were even some regional traditions of thanks-giving celebrations (like we now have) in some parts of the states. However, when the Civil War broke out in April of 1861 Sarah Josepha Hale (author of the popular song “Mary had a little lamb”) wrote many editorials urging Americans to “put aside sectional feelings and local incidents” and rally around the unifying cause of a national day of Thanksgiving.

On October 3, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln, with the help of William Seward – his Secretary of State – announced a proclamation for the nation that has become our national tradition ever since. I find it fascinating that our consistent national holiday tradition of gratitude and thanks, sprang out of a desperate time when our President Lincoln called the nation to pause and remember “the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.” It reminds me this Thanksgiving to pause and remember God’s many mercies to me in this past year! Here is the original Thanksgiving proclamation:

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. 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. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

 

About Andy Lewis

Andy is an author, pastor, and musician who lives in Santa Cruz California. Currently he serves as lead pastor at Faith Community Church in Santa Cruz
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.