Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Day to Give Thanks to God

No, it’s not “Turkey Day”; it’s Thanksgiving Day. This is a day to acknowledge the hand of God in our daily lives; and yes, it’s a National Holiday. It may not always be that way thanks in part to those fine folks at the ACLU and their ilk; but for now it remains one of the few days that can still recognize God and all the blessings He’s bestowed on our land.

I work at the Houston Temple each Wednesday evening, a chance to serve the Lord as an ordinance worker. The president of the temple’s name is William Bradford, a direct descendant of another William Bradford, the first Governor of Massachusetts, the same who was in Plymouth during those terrible first years when illness and starvation took the lives of many each day. Those who survived had to bury their dead during the dark of night so hostile Indians wouldn’t know their true strength.

William Bradford has been credited with declaring the first Thanksgiving with a formal proclamation; but there is much more to the history worth reading. I’ve read where a specter of suspicion clouds the authenticity of the now famous Thanksgiving proclamation, doubts as to when it was written or even if Bradford wrote it at all. That having been said, other forms of proclamation which he certainly wrote would tend to justify or, at least vindicate our honoring the man as a true Christian hero. I borrowed this from the Descendants of William Bradford site:

"May not and ought now the children of these fathers rightly say: 'Our fathers were Englishmen which came over this great ocean, and were ready to perish in this wilderness, but they cried unto the Lord, and He heard their voice and looked on their adversity . . . Let them therefore praise the Lord, because He is good: and His mercies endure forever.' . . . When they wandered in the desert wilderness out of the way, and found no city to dwell in, both hungry and thirsty, their soul was overwhelmed in them. Let them confess before the Lord His loving kindness and His wonderful works before the sons of men."

Original Thanksgiving Proclamation

Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as he has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience.

Now I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and ye little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday, November 29th, of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty-three and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.

William Bradford

Ye Governor of Ye Colony

Believe what you will, I prefer to give thanks to my Father in Heaven that such men as William Bradford were picked by the Hand of God to get this struggling nation past a very rocky start. I can’t say whether or not the “original” Thanksgiving Proclamation is authentic or not; all the same it’s worth reading.

I like another proclamation, this was given by George Washington on October 3, 1789. Before I forget, thanks to the Junto Society for providing a good portion of the information I’ve borrowed and linked with.

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 to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both 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 signal 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 and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these 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 for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted for civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and
supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and
punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by
constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly
and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3d day of October, A.D.

(signed) G. Washington

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