Pastor Ed Jones
We live in a time when giving thanks has been replaced with protesting perceived ills or loss of entitlement. The proverbial “squeaky wheel” is evident in media, academia, industry, religion and politics. It’s not my intent to comment on the validity of cause or sincerity of those protesting. I merely wish to point out that our focus may, at this juncture in our history, have shifted from gratitude for that which we have to anger for that which is yet lacking.
In 1789 none other than President George Washington announced the first ever Thanksgiving holiday, which took place on Thursday, November 26. But it didn’t become a tradition nationwide until the 19th Century when an American writer named Sara Josepha Hale, most famous for writing the nursery rhyme Mary Had a Little Lamb, was inspired by a diary of Pilgrim life to recreate that first Thanksgiving feast.
Beginning in 1827 she waged a nearly 30-year campaign to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. Sara believed that being thankful was not only necessary but an essential quality of patriotism. In addition she is responsible for many of the staples of modern Thanksgiving meals as she publishee recipes for pumpkin pie, turkey and stuffing.
In 1863 during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln announced that the nation would celebrate Thanksgiving every year on the last Thursday of November. However, in 1939 President Franklin Roosevelt moved the holiday up one week to give depression era retailers more time to make money during the pre-Christmas shopping season. The move was met with nation-wide criticism. In 1941 FDR changed it back to the fourth Thursday where it remains today.
Originally intended as a time of thanking God for His provision, Thanksgiving in America has morphed into something unrecognizable to the founders of the feast. In his letter of 1622 to a dear friend, Edward Winslow writes, “And God be praised, we had a good increase…. Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling that so we might after a special manner rejoice together….” Winslow continues, “These things I thought good to let you understand… that you might on our behalf give God thanks who hath dealt so favourably with us.” To the Puritans a true “thanksgiving” was a day of prayer and pious humiliation acknowledging God’s special providence.
I doubt that as a nation we will return to the original intent of Winslow or Hale for the day has taken on a life of its own. We can, however, take a moment, if only a moment, to thank our Creator for the abundance He provides and the blessings he bestows. Happy Thanksgiving!
Ed Jones pastors Fellowship at the Ranch Church at Robson Ranch. This nondenominational church meets at the Robson Clubhouse on Sunday mornings at 10:30 a.m. Visit Fellowship’s website: www.fellowshipattheranchchurch.com for information.