Earlier this week, I read a wonderful article about the deeper meaning of Thanksgiving. It was a reminder that, like Christmas, Thanksgiving has become increasingly secularized. And because of that, we are losing touch with the true spirit of the holiday.
Thanksgiving isn’t just about food. It isn’t even solely about family and friends – though that element, at least is the one thing that still connects the secular Thanksgiving celebration with the spiritual one. And it is definitely not about making a list of material goods that you’re grateful to own.
At its core, Thanksgiving is about God. It is about giving thanks for all that God has given and revealed to us. We are not gathered to thank Him for a new car or planned vacation. We are gathered to thank God for both the good and the bad that we have encountered this year.
When Abraham Lincoln issued his Thanksgiving proclamation in 1863, America was in the midst of a bloody and painful Civil War. Lincoln explicitly mentions being grateful for both God’s bounty and for the mercy that tempers His anger at our sins.
This Thanksgiving, I want to invoke the closing words of Lincoln in that first proclamation. In its own way, it still rings with truth and relevance to our own era of cultural strife:
“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 next as a Day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.”
From all of us at CAAP, we wish you a happy and blessed Thanksgiving.