When kids are first learning their “please and thank you’s” it’s not unusual to here a parent prompt their child by reminding them, “What do you say?”
I kinda feel like Thanksgiving is our cultural equivalent.
It sometimes feel like we spend much our our lives running from here to there, doing this and that, getting knicks and knacks, and fall exhausted into bed each night so we can get up and do it all again the next day.
I don’t think many of us want life to be like that. I read enough blogs and see enough Facebook posts to know that most of us long for the quieter moments, for peace and rest, for intentional moments of living deeply. But we face the harsh reality of bills to pay and schedules to keep and people to meet and it can feel like life becomes a checklist, a to-do list, or just a crazy, messy race.
And then this day comes once a year where all around us we hear a different message. Whether contrived for commercial reasons or sincere heartfelt sentiments, we consistently hear things like, “Give Thanks” and “Count your blessings” and “Gather friends and family.” It’s like a societal nudge..a reminder..a simple, “What do you say?” for all of us.
The goal of the parental reminder is to help our kids form a habit where saying “Thank you” is a normal response from our children.
The goal of Thanksgiving was quite similar. These powerful words, proclaimed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 as the Civil War waged on and Thanksgiving was made an official holiday, reflect that desire that gratitude would become our way of life in America.
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God…
…No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.
I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
I’m not sure I could ever write a better “prompt” than this.
This day, the day we call Thanksgiving, isn’t just a day to say “thank you” but also a day to say “please.”
Please forgive us for taking You for granted.
Please heal our nation and your Church of the wounds that have torn us apart.
Please restore us in your grace to relationship with you.
Please keep in tender care those who mourn
Please, Lord, come and heal our land.
And if this day of feasting and family, of food and fellowship, also becomes to us a time of faithfulness and forgiveness, perhaps when the day is gone, the reminder of “What do you say?” will echo in our lives, our families, our homes, our churches every single day.
Happy Thanksgiving friends.
Embrace the “please and thank you’s”, hug the ones you love, count your blessings, and give thanks!
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About the author
Christina Embree is wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and family minister at Nicholasville UMC. She is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. Currently studying Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at ChildrensMinistryBlog.com, Seedbed, and D6 Family.