Following Washington’s Advice
Our Thanksgiving celebration tradition began in Plymouth Colony in 1621 after a successful harvest. For three days, the Pilgrims feasted and enjoyed games and recreation with the Native Americans who had helped them survive in the New World.
The history of our country is filled with examples of various groups who paused to give thanks to God for his blessings. The Spaniards and the French, who arrived on the American continent in the 1500s, observed times of thanksgiving. Thanksgiving services were routine in the Virginia colonies in the early 1600s. History records various thanksgiving feasts throughout the 1600s-1700s.
The first national Thanksgiving was celebrated on December 18, 1777, and the Continental Congress issued National Thanksgiving Day proclamations each year between 1778 and 1784. Virtually every president since Abraham Lincoln has issued a Thanksgiving proclamation.
So we have a long and stable tradition in the US of observing times of thanksgiving and prayer.
Today I want to do something a little different than what I typically do for a Thanksgiving message. I want to consider the remarks from George Washington’s Thanksgiving proclamation made in October of 1789. The first sentence of his proclamation says, in part:
[I]t 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 to implore His protection and favor…
Washington’s assertion is fully biblical, and we would do well to follow his advice and pattern.