On October 3, 1789, George Washington issued the nation’s first presidential proclamation in which he called the nation to set aside a day for giving thanks to that “great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be …”
President Washington gave under his official hand the following words:
Furthermore, President Washington acknowledged that he was joined by the Congress in his appeal to the nation:
This presidential proclamation represented, in unequivocal terms, the government’s call upon the people of this nation to acknowledge and give thanks to God for His many and abundant blessings. These were not benign religious platitudes but absolute statements reflecting the consensus view of life and reality, which acknowledged that there is one God; the God who has revealed Himself in Scripture, in nature, and in the person of Jesus Christ. It is this God that the nation once acknowledged and it is this God, the one true God, that the people of this nation have turned against and today refuse to acknowledge and serve.
President Washington concluded his proclamation with these words:
Seventy-four years later, in the midst of the great Civil War, President Lincoln would issue a similar call to the nation acknowledging the nation’s many blessings from the Lord, “… who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.” President Lincoln, like our first president, would once again call the nation to national thanksgiving and repentance with these words:
America, in its folly, has been in the process of severing its national identity and dependence from the God who has given it birth and blessed it for so long. Therefore, it seems to me that we might be well served to recall the proclamation of these great men set aside for this Thanksgiving holiday and once again give thanks to Almighty God for His longsuffering patience and mercy toward this nation and humbly repent of our national rebellion and wanton disregard for all that is holy and just.
This national repentance begins in the church, which has seemingly lost its way—abandoned (practically speaking) its first love and so often conformed to the world. May we on this Thanksgiving Day acknowledge the many and abundant blessings of Almighty God accompanied by a deep and sorrowful repentance for our individual, corporate, and national sins. This, my dear brothers and sisters, is our only hope and it is for this real hope and the promise of forgiveness that we can give thanks indeed!
May the Lord, in His great mercy, pour out His spirit upon you, your families, His church, and this nation this Thanksgiving Day.
© 2008 by S. Michael Craven
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S. Michael Craven is the President of the Center for Christ & Culture. Michael is the author of Uncompromised Faith (Navpress), which is scheduled for release January 2009. (You can pre-order a signed copy HERE) Michael's ministry is dedicated to renewal within the Church and works to equip Christians with an intelligent and thoroughly Christian approach to matters of culture in order to demonstrate the relevance of Christianity to all of life. For more information on the Center for Christ & Culture, the teaching ministry of S. Michael Craven, visit: www.battlefortruth.org
Michael lives in the Dallas area with his wife Carol and their three children.
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