Although the annual remembrance of a special day of Thanksgiving to God dates back to the time of the pilgrims, the first official day set aside was November 26, 1789, during the first year of President George Washington’s administration. The year 1789 is a year to remember. This was the year in which the bloody French Revolution began with its accompanying Reign of Terror, in Paris. Their leaders even stopped counting time from the birth of Christ because they did not want anything to do with Christ!
However, on this side of the Atlantic, our first President issued a strong, beautiful Thanksgiving Day Proclamation: “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, aid and favors.” President Washington assigned a day “to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that glorious Being, who is the Beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country, and for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.”
The one thing that distinguishes the American Revolution from the French and all other revolutions was that when our forefathers abolished one despotism they did not put up another in its place as all others did. They established a government that recognized the laws of God and therefore respected the rights of humanity, which is made in the image and likeness of God. They believed that God is The Moral Governor of the Universe with one moral code – unconditional love and merciful justice for all.
The liberties they sought and fought for was not freedom from God, but freedom under God. They sought to be free to serve a holy God in willing obedience to God’s desire for us to love one another as graciously and compassionately as God loves us. They sought to honor our One Loving God – our Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer.
We should all ponder the words inscribed on the Jefferson Memorial: “God who gave us life, gave us liberty. Can liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that those liberties are the gift of God?” The Bible was read at the making and signing of the Declaration of Independence, and its underlying principals embodied into the Constitution of The United States of America.
This Thanksgiving, let our thanksgiving be to the One, True, Loving God – not to luck, fortune, chance or to our brains and brawn. God is the One we thank because God is the living being and source of all our grace. What are you thankful for? Be abundantly Blessed.
Rev. Tom Cici is the pastor at First Christian Church of Hoopeston (502 E. Main St). Please go to www.fcchoopeston.org for inspirational sermons and much more.