I can think of no greater way to kick off a week of celebrating our gratitude for Gods involvement in our lives than last weekends four worship services. The power of Gods presence, the active involvement of Gods people, and the expressions of worship, praise, and thanksgiving provided a wonderful initiation of this season of Thanksgiving. Thanks to everyone who was involved and who participated in these wonderful expressions of Thanksgiving!
I thought it might be fun to trace the history of Americas involvement in pausing to give thanks to their Creator. On September 6, 1620, the Pilgrims left Plymouth, England. Although these courageous explorers were filled with uncertainty and peril, they embarked on a journey to the New World praying it would lead them to a land offering both civil and religious liberty.
Arriving in Massachusetts in late November, the Pilgrims identified a suitable landing place and on December 11th, they signed the Mayflower CompactԗAmericas first document outlining civil government and the first to introduce a system of self-government.
Facing the emergence of winter, the Pilgrims built hasty shelters, but were unprepared for the starvation and sickness the harsh New England winter brought them and nearly half died before spring. Yet, persevering in prayer, and assisted by Native Americans, they reaped a bountiful harvest the following summer.
The grateful Pilgrims then declared a three-day feast, starting on December 13, 1621, to thank God and to celebrate with their Native American friends. While this was not the first Thanksgiving in America (thanksgiving services were held in Virginia as early as 1607), it was Americas first Thanksgiving Festival.
In 1789, following a proclamation issued by President George Washington, America celebrated its first Day of Thanksgiving to God under its new constitution. That same year, the Protestant Episcopal Church, of which President Washington was a member, announced that the first Thursday in November would become its regular day for giving thanks, unless another day be appointed by the civil authorities.
Much of the credit for the adoption of an annual national Thanksgiving Day may be attributed to Mrs. Sarah Joseph Hale, the editor of Godeys Ladys Book. For thirty years, she promoted the idea of a national Thanksgiving Day, contacting President after President until President Abraham Lincoln responded in 1863 by setting aside the last Thursday of November as a national Day of Thanksgiving. Over the next seventy-five years, Presidents followed Lincolns precedent, annually declaring a national Thanksgiving Day. Then, in 1941, Congress permanently established the fourth Thursday of each November as a national holiday. (http://www.ChristianAnswers.net )
As we gather around our Thanksgiving tables on Thursday, may we pause to reflect upon Gods goodness and declare our gratitude for the great ways God has blessed each and every one of us throughout the years.
On behalf of our CCoF Leadership Team, our Ministry staff, and Phyllis I wish you and yours the Happiest of Thanksgivings!
My Love in Christ,