Dear EFCC Family, I wanted to take a moment to wish you a happy Thanksgiving! I hope you’re having a wonderful day with friends and family, celebrating God’s goodness and grace to you. Even in the midst of a chaotic season, we have a lot to be thankful for.
This year, I was drawn back to the original Thanksgiving Proclamation. As a nation we started celebrating Thanksgiving when President George Washington declared Thursday, November 26, 1789 as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer. However, it’s Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1863 that stands as the historic focal point of our national celebration. His declaration was so poignant because it was given during the Civil War – undoubtedly a low point in American history. You don’t typically expect to find Thanksgiving in the middle of a war zone. During that situation, Thanksgiving became a subversive act of revolution against the swirling circumstances of pain and death. It would be like offering Thanksgiving in the middle of a pandemic.
In that address, President Lincoln placed his proverbial stake in the ground and declared that we will be a grateful nation even when our circumstances are less than ideal. After recounting the work of the people in sustaining them through the war, Lincoln turned their attention to God. He wrote, “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… I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, 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.” We have such a rich history as a nation. What a beautiful calling; one that I believe is applicable for our Thanksgiving in 2020.
I’m reminded that while this year may be far from perfect, Thanksgiving is still in order. We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving because God gives us everything we want, we give thanks because his grace is sufficient for us (2 Corinthians 12:9). We give thanks because it reorients our hearts to the reality that God is the giver and sustainer of all life and that he reigns supreme. We give thanks because all of life is a gift.
This year I want to invite you to give thanks, and to do it as an act of subversion against the circumstances in which we find ourselves. Remember God’s goodness and grace – even in the midst of COVID. Write down the blessings you have or share them with your family. Send a note or a text message to people who have loved and cared for you this year. Practice gratitude; it’s one of the ways we keep Jesus at the center of our lives (Romans 1:18-32).
Happy Thanksgiving, friends. It’s a joy to be one of your pastors and to be on the journey of life and faith with you. I am so thankful for the partnership we have in the gospel.