Thursday, November 25, 2004


I have recently come across the 1863 Thanksgiving proclamation given by Abraham Lincoln.

It is the duty of nations as well as of citizens to owe their dependence upon the overruling power of God; to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord....
We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.
Intoxicated with unbroken success we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us. It has seemed to me fit and proper that God should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one 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 as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.

When held together with the Gospel lesson assigned to Thanksgiving Day, John 6:25-35, I am concerned that we strive after the food that perishes. Our feasts around tables, while enjoyable, miss something when held in contrast with the true feast that matters, the meal that is our Thanksgiving, the Eucharist. Jesus says, "I am the bread of life..." He is the food that does not perish. Even though we are only given a taste, it is the foretaste of the feast to come. The Eucharist enlivens us to go out in the world. The meal where we gorge ourselves, leads us to collapse on the couch, drifting off into a triptophan-induced coma.

Our Thanksgiving must always be one of both praise and repentance, remembering how what we have is only due to God's grace.


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