It is Thanksgiving Day, a day to pause and consider the blessings that have been bestowed upon us. These may be family, friends, new opportunities, or new callings. Whatever the nature of the blessings, we give thanks.
Thanksgiving is a national holiday, with religious overtones, but because it's a national holiday it is an invitation to persons of every faith as well as of no faith profession to give thanks. I thought I'd pull out part of President Obama's proclamation to share, and then close with the sharing of Psalm 100, a text that is so deeply connected with this day in the hearts and minds of many.
Though our traditions have evolved, the spirit of grace and humility at the heart of Thanksgiving has persisted through every chapter of our story. When President George Washington proclaimed our country's first Thanksgiving, he praised a generous and knowing God for shepherding our young republic through its uncertain beginnings. Decades later, President Abraham Lincoln looked to the divine to protect those who had known the worst of civil war, and to restore the nation "to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and union."
In times of adversity and times of plenty, we have lifted our hearts by giving humble thanks for the blessings we have received and for those who bring meaning to our lives. Today, let us offer gratitude to our men and women in uniform for their many sacrifices, and keep in our thoughts the families who save an empty seat at the table for a loved one stationed in harm's way. And as members of our American family make do with less, let us rededicate ourselves to our friends and fellow citizens in need of a helping hand.
As we gather in our communities and in our homes, around the table or near the hearth, we give thanks to each other and to God for the many kindnesses and comforts that grace our lives. Let us pause to recount the simple gifts that sustain us, and resolve to pay them forward in the year to come.
1 Shout triumphantly to the LORD, all the earth!
2 Serve the LORD with celebration!
Come before him with shouts of joy!
3 Know that the LORD is God— he made us; we belong to him.
We are his people, the sheep of his own pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanks;
enter his courtyards with praise!
Thank him! Bless his name!
5 Because the LORD is good, his loyal love lasts forever;
his faithfulness lasts generation after generation.
Psalm 100 (Common English Bible)