Five Thanksgivings ago, I posted this blog entry. I pray that all of us will remember the blessings we have received over the years when we take the time this year to be thankful.
A few years back, in 2000, there was a movie out called “Pay It Forward.” The premise of the movie was to pass on a blessing to someone, with nothing expected in return. In the movie Trevor McKinney, troubled by his mother’s alcoholism and fears of his abusive but absent father, is caught up by an intriguing assignment from his new social studies teacher, Mr. Simonet. The assignment: think of something to change the world and put it into action. Trevor conjures up the notion of paying a favor not back, but forward–repaying good deeds not by payback to the original person, but with new good deeds done to three new people. As he works on his assignment, it transforms his life and all of the lives of those touched by the ever-growing circle of good deeds.
Thanksgiving is a day to remember all who “Paid It Forward” to and for us. Before 1863 it was being celebrated separately in many states on different dates to commemorate the original Thanksgiving from 1621 when the Pilgrims and Indians gathered for a harvest celebration. The day was established by Abraham Lincoln as a national day for our country to celebrate all of the blessings we have. He set forth a proclamation on October 3rd, 1863 (now a 153 year tradition), in the middle of the Civil War no less, to set apart the last Thursday of November “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise.”
Here is the Proclamation:
|“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.|
In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theater of military conflict; while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.
Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.
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, tranquility and Union.”
We in America are truly blessed. We have all we need and then some. Even the poorest among us are generally richer than many in other countries. We have much to be thankful for. Recently with the “Occupy Wall Street” movement (or this year, a division over the national election results) and a general sense of entitlements that seems to be growing in our country, we are putting our blessings at risk. Paul states in 2 Corinthians – “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 (NIV)
Remember today to thank God for all that He has done in your life and in the lives of those around you. He is the giver of the day and the source of our strength. Remember the blessings you have received and “Pay It Forward” to all around you, with no expectation of return.
2 Chronicles 7:14 – “If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (NIV)