November 21, 2021 - Pastor Message12/01/2021
“Come, let us sing joyfully to the Lord; let us acclaim the Rock of our salvation. Let us greet him with thanksgiving; let us joyfully sing psalms to him. For the Lord is a great God, and a great king above all gods” (Psalm 95:1-3).
So, what are you thankful for this year? This common Thanksgiving question will make its way around many family dinner tables this Thursday, but, while there is nothing wrong with considering our blessings, this question falls a bit short of the mark when considering just what this national holiday is really all about. To help us recall that deeper purpose, let us reflect for a moment on the proclamation of our country’s first president, George Washington, establishing Thanksgiving for the first time as a national holiday:
“Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of the 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...Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be - That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks” (signed October 3, 1789).
To be fair, the full text of the proclamation, which is well worth reading, goes on to point out the many blessings for which Washington believes we should be grateful as a nation, but what is the focus of the holiday? It is not our blessings but the “Almighty God” and “glorious Being...who is the beneficent Author” of those blessings. Reflecting on the things for which we are grateful is only a preliminary step toward the larger purpose of Thanksgiving, serving God by offering him “sincere and humble thanks.”
Considering the state of our country today, we need to set time aside as a nation for “public thanksgiving and prayer” to God more than ever. The root of all evil is not money but self-centered pride, casting God away and making ourselves God. Is that not what we see happening every day in our nation over issues of life, sexuality, politics, economics, and technology? We need to put God back where he belongs in our lives as individuals and as a nation - at the very center - and that begins by offering him sincere and humble thanks. So take some time this Thursday in the midst of family, food, and football to honor the true purpose of the holiday, and have a very blessed and grateful Thanksgiving.
Fr. Marc Stockton