Summary: Thanksgiving Sermon - Series A

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Thanksgiving Eve November23,2005 “Series A”

Grace be unto you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Let us pray: Dear Heavenly Father, we come before you this night to give you thanks for your many blessings upon us – for the gift of life, for all that sustains us from day to day, and especially for your gracious gift of redemption which we receive through our baptism and faith in Christ’s death and resurrection. Through the power of your Holy Spirit, inspire us to show our thankfulness in the way that we care for those among us, especially those in need. This we ask in Christ’s holy name. Amen.

This evening, the occasion that brings us together to worship God has little to do with our Christian faith. It is not a religious holiday, in which we gather to remember and celebrate an event in the life of Christ, such as Christmas or Easter. It is not an occasion on the Church’s liturgical calendar in which we gather together to begin a spiritual journey of faith renewal, as we do on Ash Wednesday.

No, the occasion that brings us together this evening is a national holiday, which began in the colonial times of New England, as a harvest festival. In 1621, Governor William Bradford of Massachusetts first declared a day of thanksgiving and prayer to God for the harvest, which soon became a custom in the New England colonies.

However, following the revolution, an annual day of thanksgiving was then sanctioned by the federal government. Listen to the words of what George Washington used to proclaim this national holiday:

“Whereas, it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly implore his protection and favor;

Whereas, both the houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me ‘to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and single favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness!’

Now therefore, I do recommend next, to be devoted by the people of the states to the service of that great and glorious being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be, that we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks…” End quote.

Thus, this national Day of Thanksgiving began, and over the years, it was adopted and observed by each of the states as a holiday. Yet over the years, especially the last twenty-five years, about all that is left of this day, set aside to give thanks to Almighty God and his providence, is that it is a national holiday – a day off of work. We don’t even acknowledge its original purpose inherent in its name. Thanksgiving Day has been replaced with the non-offensive title “Turkey Day.” After all, in today’s culture, the ACLU would probably sue George Washington for his use of such strongly religious rhetoric in proclaiming a national holiday.

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