Happy Thanksgiving!

By Ross Engel

Today is the national day of Thanksgiving. In October of 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln decreed that the fourth Thursday of November would be set aside as a day to give thanks. He exclaimed in this decree,

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.”

In this life, we do have much to be thankful for. Sometimes in the midst of the struggles and the hustle and bustle of life, we can lose sight of all the manifold blessings that we have received from the mighty hand of God. But on Thanksgiving we, along with most of our fellow Americans, have an opportunity to pause, even if only for a moment, to be thankful.

And so, I encourage you today, to take a moment and consider all the gifts from God that you have. Everything we possess, down to the very air that we breathe, is a gift from God. As you celebrate Thanksgiving in whatever manner or fashion is your tradition, take a moment to pause and acknowledge God our Heavenly Father, the giver of all good gifts, and give thanks to Him for them all.

Each of us has been blessed and gifted in different ways, but it is God who is the One who provides us with all things. He is the giver of good gifts! He gives us the gift of life, the forgiveness of our sins in Jesus Christ, eternal salvation by Christ alone, and the wonderful gift of faith that receives these blessings through the gracious gift of God’s Holy Word and the Blessed Sacraments. If these eternal gifts weren’t enough, God also pours out additional blessings for us to use in this life, for our own enjoyment and for the service of our neighbors.

So go and enjoy what blessings God has given you. Put down your phone, close the laptop, and enjoy (if only for a moment) the wonderful blessings that God has given to you. And on this Thanksgiving Day 2016, consider the words of this outstanding Lutheran hymn that, while written in a time of great sorrow and anguish, gave us words to boldly thank and praise God for all His blessings, great and small!

Now thank we all our God
With heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done,
In whom His world rejoices;
Who from our mother’s arms
Has blest us on our way
With countless gifts of love
And still is ours today.

Oh, may this bounteous God
Through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts
And blessed peace to cheer us
And keep us in His grace
And guide us when perplexed
And free us from all ills
In this world and the next! (LSB 895 “Now Thank We All Our God v. 1 & 2)

Happy Thanksgiving to you and to yours!

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