Feasts of Thanksgiving have long been a part of human history, celebrating harvests and offering gratitude for the sustenance of our Creator. In American history there are many traditions and legends surrounding Thanksgiving. While some of these are dubious, there is no doubt that the last Thursday of November was first set aside as a national day of Thanksgiving by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, in the midst of the Civil War.
While we’re certainly not in such a time as that, we are undoubtedly in a time of great national stress and division. Tensions are running high, while many suffer and misinformation runs rampant. Institutional trust is lacking – in governments, in community organizations, in the media, and in the church. The strains we’re enduring as a nation, and throughout the global community, have amplified human differences that had until now been more negotiable.
In the midst of all that, I find the invitation of Lincoln to Americans in that autumn of 1863 especially poignant – to fervently (passionately, zealously, fanatically) implore the imposition of God’s hand to heal the wounds of our nation, and to restore it, ASAP, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union. The idea of restoring harmony and union may seem overwhelming to us, but it’s not overwhelming for God to work in and through us.
We are called in this moment, I believe, to be peacemakers, community-builders, restorers of relationships. That begins with an act of Thanksgiving for all that is good, recalling for us in the process all that we value, so that we might remind the world what goodness looks like. We, then, must recommit ourselves to God’s work of reconciliation, to actively living lives of thankfulness, humility, and grace. God’s good work of healing will come alive in you.
My prayer for you is a blessed season of Thanksgiving. My invitation to you is to fervently implore God to help us in this time of strain, that our wounds might be healed, our divisions relieved, our community restored. This is our call, and our purpose, as disciples of Jesus.
Peace for the journey,