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Offering Thanks!

November 23, 2015

Brilliant fall colors turn our hearts and minds to the coming holidays.  Childhood experiences of the Season often bring wonderful memories.  Of my own, our family often traveled longer distances to see and be with extended family.  Our travels took us from warmth through snow covered peaks, and colorful mountain valleys.   In a time before interstates connected much of the nation, we often traveled by rail. Watching snowflakes magically drift across a dome’s glass while gliding and straining over steep mountain passes, left behind in a child’s mind powerful images of this earth’s quiet beauty.  At grandmother’s Thanksgiving, she required us to publicly give thanks before we could eat.  It would be much later in life before I truly understood the meaning of thankfulness.  One Thanksgiving found us riding through newly fallen snow in a beautiful one horse open sleigh.  Yes, sounds of sleigh bells announced our presence.

Attitudes of gratitude and thankfulness transcend our circumstances.   Early stories from our nation’s history offer helpful examples.   Following a difficult journey which culminated into a winter filled with death, Pilgrims found reasons to offer thanks the following fall.  Of the fall banquet Edward Winslow wrote, “And although it was not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.”

A few tiresome years later, having finally solved their economic struggles, they suffered once again, drought wilting away their next harvest.  “In July, Governor Bradford called for a day of community fasting and prayer and all willingly took part. The next morning, rain began and continued for two weeks of which the governor later wrote: “Such softe, sweet and moderate showers…it was hard to say whether our withered corn or drooping affections were most quickened and revived.

Following the Pilgrim’s pattern, Colonial governments during the Revolutionary War set aside days of fasting, prayer, and even for banquets, offering thanks for the watchful hand of God in their lives. After the victory at Saratoga, Washington proclaimed December 18, 1777 a national day of Thanksgiving.  He did the same following the American victory at Yorktown.

In 1789, Washington issued a Thanksgiving proclamation beginning, “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:”

Give thanks to God this week as we gather with family and friends.  And don’t forget those among us who are in need or who are less fortunate.  Happy Thanksgiving to All!

Mark, Bill, and John








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