Thursday, November 26, 2009

In Praise and High Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day (US)

The Word:
Sirach 50:22-24 (Now thank we all our God)
Psalm 113:1-8 (Blessed be the name of the Lord, forever)
1 Corinthians 1:3-9 (I give thanks always to God for you)
Luke 17:11-19 ("Ten lepers were cured - where are the other nine? Was there no one to return and give thanks to God except this Samaritan?")

Other passages:
Deuteronomy 8:7-18; 1 Kings 8:55-61; Isaiah 63:7-9, Joel 2:21-27; Zephaniah 3:14-15;
Ephesians 1:3-14; Colossians 3:12-17, 1 Timothy 6:6-19;
Psalm 67:2-8; 1 Chronicles 29:10-12; Psalm 138:1-5; Psalm 145:2-11;
Mark 5:18-20; Luke 12:15-21

Thanksgiving Day has a great significance in its history as a celebration in America. Evidence holds that what most of us look to as the first idyllic celebration of thanksgiving by the Pilgrims at Plymouth in Massachusetts in 1621 was a three-day foodapaloozawith 100 last-minute guests (the natives)  prepared by five women. Yes, I'm oversimplifying. Those five women had no time to complain, which may be one reason why this festival has such endearing attachment to family and home, two things of which we should be grateful.

But back to those five ladies - I'm thankful for their culinary expertise, such as it was nearly four centuries ago. Their endurance eventually won out over Yankee vs. Southern political quirkiness - and due to the persistance of Sarah Hale.

It was President Abraham Lincoln who finally set in stone the establishment of a national observance of Thanksgiving. His proclamation is all the more profound today:

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 unequalled 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 had 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 consciousness 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 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, tranquility 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 United States the eighty-eighth."

--Proclamation of President Abraham Lincoln, 3 October 1863.

May you be surrounded today by the things of which you are most thankful.

Thanks be to Thee
Lord God of hosts,
Thou broughtest forth
With mighty hand
Israel safe through the sea.

Thanks be to Thee
Thanks be to Thee
Thy holy name
Be ever blest
Glory, honor and praise be Thine!

Thy loving kindness doth forever prevail
Tenderly, tenderly guiding all those who come unto Thee.

Thanks be to Thee
Thanks be to Thee
Thou art the King
O'er land and sea
Praise, adoration we sing unto Thee!

--Thanks Be to Thee
(composite translation)
George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)

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