As Thanksgiving looms this week, it is well worth the time to read and reflect on the Thanksgiving proclamation issued by President Lincoln in October of 1863 — you can find it in its entirety here. In it Lincoln reflects on the ways the United States of America has prospered even in the midst of a civil war.
When I read the words of this proclamation I’m struck by how far we have veered from the spirit of Lincoln’s words. We have maintained the semblance of giving thanks. But what Lincoln called us to do over a century ago has devolved into merely a family gathering.
While inviting us to give thanks, the President also asked that we confess our wrongs, as he calls them our “national perverseness and disobedience.” He also urges us to remember those who have suffered because of the war which gripped our nation. I may give thought to those so-called “less fortunate” but I doubt that I give them the attention the day really calls me to give. The same can be said for my perverseness and disobedience.
As Thursday draws near, I will ponder Lincoln’s invitation to not only thank but also to confess and to remember. I will still eat my turkey and pumpkin pie. But maybe this year I will give more attention to the One Lincoln’s proclamation calls “our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.” And be grateful for His blessings and His undeserved but needed mercy for our nation and myself. I suspect I will be even more grateful if I heed and ponder these words from long ago.