Thanksgiving used to take us each year to my sweet mother-in-law’s for a thanksgiving dinner that would have made the pilgrims blush and then back home to our humble abode for Terri’s home spun palate pleasing thanksgiving feast that is reminiscent of a Norman Rockwell painting from The Saturday Evening Post. It wasn’t until I became a Christ Follower that I really began to appreciate the many blessings I enjoy, and to truly be thankful. Dr. Luke records for us that as Jesus was passing through Samaria and Galilee there were a group of ten lepers who cried out for healing. As he drew near they cried out, “Have mercy on us.” In short order they found themselves on the way to find a priest who would give them a looking over to see if the deadly disease was gone. Funny thing happened on the way to the priest, they were completely healed! Now here’s where the story gets interesting, only one of the ten came back to say thanks to Jesus. Luke records, “And Jesus answering said, were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? They are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.” Did you catch those haunting words, “where are the nine?” I never want to be numbered with the nine!
The House of Representatives on September 24, 1789 passed a resolution calling for a day of national prayer and thanksgiving. Here is the language the House adopted: “We acknowledge with grateful hearts the many single favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peacefully to establish a constitutional government for their safety and happiness.” The House accordingly called on President Washington to issue a proclamation designating a national day of prayer and thanksgiving. This was Washington’s response: “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…That great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that ever will be, that we may then unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people.” Such were the official sentiments of Congress and the president immediately after the adoption of the First Amendment. Interestingly, these statements are far more doctrinal and emphatic than the modest prayer schoolchildren are forbidden to recite because it allegedly violates the First Amendment. If we accept the reasoning of the modern Court, as Robert Cord observes, both Congress and George Washington
violated the intended meaning of the First Amendment from its inception. Then it was George Washington again, issuing a general proclamation naming November 26, 1789 as a onetime day of national thanksgiving. Then it’s another 75 years before Abraham Lincoln, during the sobering days of the Civil War, proclaims the last Thursday of November, 1863, as “a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father.” Finally, in 1941, Congress voted that it would always be the fourth Thursday of November that was our legal holiday. And again this week we will celebrate thanksgiving as families and as a nation. But most importantly we will celebrate as individuals who have been blessed by the God of heaven with the choicest of bounties.
I remember years ago hearing George Younce of the Cathedral Quartet share this in a concert and I think it is very fitting for this week, “Today upon a bus, I saw a girl with golden hair, She looked so happy, I envied her, I wished that I were as fair. When suddenly she rose to leave And I saw her hobble down the aisle, She had one leg, she wore a crutch, But as she passed she smiled. Oh Lord, forgive me when I whine for I am blessed indeed and the world is mine. Later on the way to work I stopped to buy some sweets, The lad who sold them to me had such charm, I talked with him a while, if I were late would do no harm, As I was leaving, “sir” he said, “you’ve been so kind” “It’s nice to talk to folks like you, you see” he said “I’m blind”, Oh Lord, forgive me when I whine, For I am blessed indeed and the world is mine. Later walking down the street, I saw a child with eyes of blue, He stood and he watched the others play, seemed he didn’t know what to do, I said, “why don’t you join the others dear?” He just looked straight-ahead spoke not a word, and then I knew, He couldn’t hear. Oh Lord forgive me when I whine, for I am blessed indeed and the world is mine. With legs to take me where I’d go, with eyes to see the sunsets glow, With ears to hear what I would know, Oh Lord dear God forgive me when I whine For I am blessed indeed and the world is mine… Amen and Happy Thanksgiving!