Don’t call it ‘Turkey Day’. It is and has been a day for giving thanks to Almighty God. While Thankgiving Day culture looks back to a day of thanks for the harvest in 1623, the official national celebration had to wait until our American colonies began to be a nation.
The Continental Congress in 1777 set aside the third Thursday in December “…for solemn thanksgiving and praise. That with one heart and one voice the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts, and consecrate themselves to the service of their Divine Benefactor;… and their humble and earnest supplication that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them (their manifold sins) out of remembrance… That it may please Him… to take schools and seminaries of education, so necessary for cultivating the principles of true liberty, virtue and piety under His nurturing hand, and to prosper the means of religion for the promotion and enlargement of that kingdom which consisteth of ‘righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost’…”
George Washington in 1795 also set aside a day of thanksgiving to God— this one in February. The annual day of thanksgiving was made by act of Congress and signed into law by Abraham Lincoln. This proclamation says that it is “…announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord… 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, by the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own… 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…”
To give thanks implies the existence of a unified One to whom we are thankful. Without that belief, the concept of a day of thanksgiving has little meaning. For the atheist and agnostic who reject belief in that One, the best they can manage is a feeling of gladness about certain good things in their lives. There is no one for them to thank.
We who are Christians, along with others who are believers in God, need to fight back against the forces who are taking the concept of thanking God out of thanksgiving. It is not a day that honors overeating turkey and dressing. It is not a day to prepare for a massive bout of overspending— or a day to start doing that massive overspending. It is most certainly not a day to try to argue reluctant family members into supporting the politics of the president, as Obama has been encouraging the last few years.
It is a day for thanking God and for praying for His blessing on the nation and the world. If your family’s Thanksgiving doesn’t include prayer, you are not doing it right.