On November 22, our nation will celebrate our annual Thanksgiving Day. In 1621, the English settlers in Plymouth, Massachusetts shared a meal with the indigenous Wampanoag people to give thanks for their harvest. The Wampanoag had helped the members of the Plymouth colony to survive by sharing their knowledge of farming and hunting in an unfamiliar land. Tragically, it was a kindness that would later be betrayed.
It was not until 1863 that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed that a national day of Thanksgiving should be celebrated every November. It is noteworthy that President Lincoln made this declaration not in a time of prosperity but rather in the midst of a bloody and bitter civil war. He was trying to find a way to bind the country together at a time when it was torn apart. We could certainly use his wisdom today.
This November 22 is also the 55th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Like Lincoln, he was not a perfect man; but he had the same gift for lifting the eyes and minds of his people to a greater and shared purpose. In his Inaugural address he famously challenged Americans: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Kennedy and Lincoln both recognized that, despite the many faults and failures of the United States and its people, this is still a blessed land. We are fortunate to be here.
Can we say the same thing about our families, our city and our church? Take some time this Thanksgiving Weekend to count your blessings. Remember the words of Psalm 116:12-13:
How can I repay the LORD for all the good done for me?
I will raise the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD.
I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people.