In 1863, President Lincoln proclaimed a national day of prayer and
Thanksgiving despite the Civil War that ravaged our nation. “We have
been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been
preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in
numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we
have forgotten God,” he said.
It was Lincoln’s hope that this day of prayer and remembering God’s
bounty would be an annual event; indeed, in 1941, President Roosevelt
signed a bill establishing the fourth Thursday in November as
Lincoln’s words are still relevant, a reminder that we must ever
turn to God for help, and to say thanks for all the good that is in our
At this Thanksgiving time, we thank God for our loved ones, family
and friends, the people who enrich our lives and make all that we do
daily have purpose and mission. We thank God for the gatherings we will
all enjoy and the bounty that will adorn our tables, even as we pray
for those across the sea in our military who will be absent from us and
facing danger; for the homeless and struggling families who will have
no feasts; for the families who have lost a dear one this year and
whose hearts will feel a longing no feast can fill.
This is a time of great challenge for us, both in our own community,
our nation and world. Our society is filled with tragic, escalating
violence and disregard for any consistent life ethic; our economy
continues to struggle and many face the holidays unemployed; our
society can seem fragmented into factions of self-interest; our
institutions struggle to offer hope and stability.
It would be easy for us to settle into disenchantment and
hopelessness, to be overwhelmed.
That is exactly why Thanksgiving Day — a holiday shared by
Americans regardless of the name they give God — is so important. It
is a day we can step back, surrounded by those in whom we ground
ourselves, and count not all that is wrong, but all that is right.
So take time on Thanksgiving, especially, to count your blessings,
and do not forget God.
Thank God for the good people and good things in your life and
world, a great bounty you will see if you only look and think. Realize,
too, that you are being counted as a blessing in someone else’s life,
and gain spirit and happiness from that knowledge. Ask God to help you
live up to the loving, caring image those who count on you have of you
when they remember you in their prayers.
See all this good for what it is: a great tool God has given you to
find the hope and confidence to fix those broken things that you can
fix in your life, family and community. And know that God always is
working on the rest.
May God continue to bless you, and may your Thanksgiving time be
filled with peace.
Peace to all.