Published by DonDavidson on

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. So Happy Thanksgiving to everyone who reads this.

President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of thanksgiving in 1863, but it did not became a national holiday until 1870 when President Ulysses S. Grant signed a law so designating it. Congress fixed the date for Thanksgiving as the 4th Thursday of November in 1942.

The inspiration for Thanksgiving is not without controversy. Some say that it is inspired by the Pilgrims’ celebration of their first harvest in the New World in 1621, following a brutal winter during which about half of them died. They were in what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts, and they celebrated the harvest with the Wampanoag, a Native American tribe with whom the Pilgrims were friendly. The Pilgrims were English “dissenters,” a label attached to a variety of religious views in seventeenth century England which commanded no significant political power, such as Unitarians, Antinomians, Anabaptists, Baptists, Quakers, and others. (To be clear, the Pilgrims were different from the Puritans.)

But early Americans often held celebrations to thank God for a variety of blessings, such as safe travels, successful harvests, rain after a period of drought, or military victories, so a tradition of thanksgiving has been part of American culture and tradition for a long time.

Psalm 100 is one of the lectionary scriptures for tomorrow. This short psalm makes clear that when we give thanks to God it should be a time of rejoicing rather than solemnity:

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.
Serve the Lord with jubilation;
Come before Him with rejoicing.

—Psalm 100:1-2

Paul says something similar in Philippians 4:4-6, where he tells us to rejoice and to pray with thanksgiving:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all people. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and pleading with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

So rejoice tomorrow and always, because God loves you. Be joyful and full of thanksgiving that he has given you enough to eat, that you live in a free country, that you have people in your life who love you. And praise God for his many blessings.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving,
And His courtyards with praise.
Give thanks to Him, bless His name.

—Psalm 100:4


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